Scotland is making a preemptive strike in a bid to prevent another walkout by doctors. The government is hoping an offer of a 14.5% pay hike over a two-year period is amenable to all.
The latest offer was only made after intense negotiations with BMA Scotland. Now the embattled union will discuss the offer with its members. The organization decided to go on strike earlier this month. The move came after rejecting the government’s paltry offer of a 5% pay rise.
BMA Scotland emphasized that it hasn’t accepted the new and improved deal. But the group did acknowledge it might be the best offer the Scottish government can make.
It’s a sentiment Dr. Chris Smith agrees on. The committee head agrees the offer is, without doubt, a big improvement on the 4.5% awarded the previous year. He added that the enhanced offer for 2022 -2023 would slow down the erosion of doctors' pay. Dr. Smith noted that doctor’s salaries declined in real terms for the past 15 years.
Dr. Smith underlined their commitment to righting that historical wrong. He said this will remain their top priority. It’s the best offer at this point though.
Government higher-ups said they’re proposing an investment of £61.3 million. This will go to the pay of junior doctors. They described the move as the largest the government has done in two decades. It’s also the best offer made in the UK. They also explained that if BMA Scotland accepts, it would start with a 6.5% pay hike in 2023 – 2024. There would also be an extra 3% increase included in the 4.5% uplift for 2022 – 2023. The uplift was already agreed on earlier.
This would mean a collective salary increase of 14.5% over 24 months. It will also match the 2023 pay award agreed on by nurses and other NHS workers.
Members of BMA Scotland had earlier agreed on doing a 72-hour walkout in June. The medical trade union has been demanding a salary hike of 23.5%. Over 71% of the 5,000 qualified junior doctors in Scotland voted on that. 97% of them also agreed on industrial action.
Health Secretary Michael Matheson was reportedly delighted to finally reach an understanding. The two parties were all embroiled in serious negotiations for weeks now.
Matheson said the government is serious about the BMA’s pay concerns. They also agree that there’s a need to modernize pay bargaining. He added that the ball is not in the junior doctors’ court. They have to reflect on the government’s final offer. Matheson is hoping the union will accept the terms.
BMA Scotland stated they would put the offer to its members. They will then engage in consultative voting.