Junior doctors have opted overwhelmingly for the deal but future strikes could still take place
By Lucy Ashton
Scotland’s junior doctors have voted overwhelmingly to accept the Scottish Government’s latest pay offer.
Some 81% of the BMA Scotland members opted to accept the 12.4% pay offer over two years on a turnout of 71%.
It comes just a day after HCSA Scotland, which represents hospital doctors, voted to back the deal.
This year, junior doctors will receive a pay rise of 12.4%.
For the next three financial years, they will receive a guaranteed minimum pay uplift of inflation every year.
The Scottish Government has also committed to negotiate for better working and training conditions for junior doctors by April 2026, as well as the creation of a new pay review mechanism.
BMA Scotland has welcomed the new deal but warned the Scottish Government if it does not follow through on its promises or does not make “sufficient progress on pay restoration” it could launch further strikes.
It follows a months-long dispute between trade unions and the Scottish Government.
BMA Scotland had hoped to receive an offer equivalent to a 35% pay rise – the amount they say wages have been cut in real terms since 2008.
The union suspended strikes in July after provisionally accepting the revised pay deal and putting it to its members, who have now accepted it.
Dr Chris Smith, chair of the Scottish Junior Doctors’ Committee, said: “This offer moves us from a position where pay restoration was a strongly held conviction within our profession to a shared goal that the Scottish government has publicly committed to working with us to complete.
“Earlier this year junior doctors in Scotland said enough is enough – they were clear that they will no longer stand aside and accept any more sub-inflationary pay awards year after year. The strong mandate for striking – with 97% of those who turned out in our ballot voting in favour of industrial action – speaks for itself.
“Key to this offer, that sets it apart from what is happening elsewhere in the UK, is that the Scottish government recognises this reality and has agreed to ongoing negotiations towards full pay restoration to 2008 levels, with an unprecedented commitment to set inflation as the floor of the pay offer at each round of negotiation.”
Dr Smith said doctors still hope to receive “full pay restoration” and warned further strikes could come if their demands are not met.
He said: “If sufficient progress towards full pay restoration is not made at the next round of negotiations or should the Scottish Government not follow through with any elements of its offer, we will not hesitate to ballot our members again and take strike action, should it be required.
“We have demonstrated our power – and no one should be in any doubt about how strong we are as a collective or what we can deliver when we stand together.
“While we accept that this year’s 12.4% uplift makes only a small amount of real terms progress towards fully reversing the 28.5% pay cut we have received since 2008, it represents a start.
“It is a compromise achieved in our negotiations that reflects the record inflationary pressure on the Scottish budget this year which is dependent on a fixed grant from the UK Government, with only limited devolved tax, borrowing and reserve powers.”
He added: “I look forward to getting down to work with the Scottish government imminently to start negotiations to improve our working lives, make pay restoration a reality and ensure that as a profession we are never again taken for granted as we have been for the last 15 years.”
Health secretary Michael Matheson, pictured right, said: “I am very pleased that BMA members have overwhelmingly voted to accept this record pay deal for junior doctors.
“This is the single biggest investment in junior doctor pay since devolution, and maintains our commitment to make Scotland the best place in the UK for junior doctors to work and train.
“Due to the meaningful engagement we have had with trade unions, we have avoided any industrial action in Scotland – the only part of the UK to avoid NHS strikes.
“We will now implement this pay uplift, and will work with BMA to take forward the other aspects of the deal including contract and pay bargaining reform.”