Two-thirds of junior doctors have considered leaving the NHS in the past year, a new poll has found as they prepare to vote on strike action next month in a pay dispute.
A survey conducted for the i newspaper by the British Medical Association (BMA) of almost 4,000 junior doctors in England during November and December showed that 79 per cent often think about leaving the NHS, and 65 per cent “have actively researched leaving the NHS in the last 12 months.
Speaking to the newspaper, Dr Robert Laurenson, a co-chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, said the poll’s results should be “a real wake-up call for the government to come to the table and address our concerns”.
The ballot of BMA members in England will open on 9 January. The union has urged the government to sign off on a better deal for junior doctors amid the cost of living crisis and rising inflation.
Junior doctors get a 2 per cent pay rise every year as part of a four-year deal agreed in 2019 in England, while those in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have separate deals.
A separate ballot for junior doctors in Scotland, who have been given a 4.5 per cent rise by their government, on potential strike action will open early next year as well.
The NHS will experience further disruption next month as nurses announced they would stage two fresh strikes in the new year as they continue to seek better pay.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said that unless negotiations are opened, its members will walk out on 18 and 19 January.
The announcement of further walkouts comes after nurses across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland went on strike over two days in December, the first time RCN members took part in strike action.
The strikes in January will take place at more NHS employers in England, increasing from 44 this month to 55 trusts, said the RCN.
RCN general secretary Pat Cullen said: “The government had the opportunity to end this dispute before Christmas but instead they have chosen to push nursing staff out into the cold again in January. I do not wish to prolong this dispute but the Prime Minister has left us with no choice.
She added: “The voice of nursing will not be ignored. Staff shortages and low pay make patient care unsafe – the sooner ministers come to the negotiating table, the sooner this can be resolved. I will not dig in, if they don’t dig in.”