Junior Doctor Industrial Action: What’s it all about

Tomorrow our profession will take part in landmark industrial action against the imposition of a contract deemed to be unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors. The media are playing an interesting game with predominantly left wing agencies in support of our movement and right wing tabloids looking to smear the profession further. It’s difficult to know what to think with both sides accusing the other of using spin to coerce us all.

I would like to take this moment to remind you all that I am an observer not a voting member of the BMAJDC which helps me to retain an element of objectivity.

So what’s it all about?

According to the BMA executive summary of proceedings, the major sticking points have been on:-

  1. Safety

  2. Pay progression

  3. Pay for all work done

  4. Plain time/premium time


The government have moved their position to be in favour of a guardian role which would likely consist of a senior doctor that would assess rota compliance with whatever the new contract would look like. If found lacking fines would be paid to the guardian to be spent on doctors training but would not go into the pockets of our overworked chums. The BMA feel this system is not robust enough to ensure patients are not put at risk from overworked doctors.

Pay progression

At present we get an annual incremental rise in pay to reflect additional experience. We also get that rise if we are out of program of on maternity leave etc. This is meant to reflect additional experience that makes you a well rounded doctor. The government propose a rank based system where at certain points you get a pay rise e.g FY1, FY2, CT1 – ST3, ST4 – ST6 and ST6 and above. The BMA suggest a similar system but front loaded with smaller pay rises to mean the average earning remain the same over the time of training. My take on this is is that women are still penalised as they take longer to get to the progression points if they go off on maternity leave.

Pay for all work done

Particularly pertinent to orthopaedics is the proposals for non-resident on calls the government has suggested an on call availability allowance at either 2% 4% or 6% basic salary!! The BMA have suggested scales of 5% 10% or 20% basic salary, this would be topped up with prospective exceptional activity payments with a online form. I personally find neither proposal acceptable.

Plain/premium time

Put simply if you call out a plumber or electrician on a Saturday of an evening you pay a lot for it. This is because in the UK the weekend and evenings are family time or rest times. The BMA categorically reject this proposal.

What should we do?

I would urge you all to become BMA members if you are not. If you are not a BMA member and strike you can be sacked.

Support your picket lines tomorrow

Support any meet the doctor events

Best of luck

James Shelton