JUNIOR doctors in Scotland will walkout for three consecutive days if members back strike action in a ballot which opens next week. 

The move would cause serious disruption for the NHS, particularly around elective care, with junior doctors making up 44 per cent of Scotland's medical workforce. 

A ballot for a 72-hour strike is due to get underway on March 29, with a deadline of May 5 for responses.

It means doctors could strike as early as mid- to late-May in what would be the first ever national walkout over pay by medics in Scotland in the history of the NHS.  

Junior doctors in England have already staged a 72-hour walkout, with a 96-hour strike now scheduled for mid-April. 

READ MORE: Why doctors are angry about their 4.5 per cent 'pay rise'

They are seeking full restoration of their pay to 2008 levels amid warnings that a 23.5% erosion of their salaries due to inflation over the past 15 years has left some young doctors seeking second jobs or preparing to quit the NHS. 

Chris Smith, chair of the BMA Scotland Junior Doctor Committee, said it “was still within the Scottish Government’s power” to prevent the need for any type of strike action should it enter into meaningful negotiations.

Dr Smith said: “The seriousness of the situation – caused not least by short staffing – should be crystal clear to anyone with even a passing interest in our NHS.

"Equally, the demoralisation of the junior doctor workforce and devaluation of the work we do through many years of pay erosion is hard to overstate.

"We make up 44% of the doctors in the NHS in Scotland, and we are on our knees.

"Indeed, many are considering leaving, or have already left – driven abroad or out of medicine altogether by being overworked yet underpaid."


Junior doctors include those working in the NHS in their first year out of medical school, to highly trained specialist doctors just below consultant level. 

The threat of strike action by medical staff comes just days after nurses and midwives in the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives - who had voted for indistrial action - agreed to a revised pay offer for NHS staff on the Agenda for Change Contract. 

READ MORE: Fears for junior doctor 'exodus' as half look to quit NHS

The deal will see salaries rise by an average of 7.5% in the current financial year and 6.5% in 2023/24. 

In contrast, junior doctors in Scotland - whose starting salaries begin from around £29,000 - were awarded uplifts of 4.5% in the current financial year. 

This was in line with the recommendations of the Doctors and Dentists pay Review Body (DDRB) - the UK's independent advisory panel for the Government - but the BMA has long disputed the body's independence and called for it to be overhauled.

Dr Smith said the trade union does not take the move to srike action "lightly", but added: “We need urgent investment in our junior doctor workforce - who are the senior doctors of the future - and to finally value them properly again.

"That means restoring junior doctor pay to 2008 levels in order to retain the staff we so desperately need both now and long term. We want to work with the Scottish Government to secure this investment, right this historical wrong and start to heal our broken NHS.

"Yet despite the obvious advantages of that, the Cabinet Secretary for Health – who continues to talk up the fact that there have been no strikes in NHS Scotland whilst being fully aware of our plans – has singularly failed to even commit to start the meaningful negotiations that we believe, with goodwill on all sides, can lead to a solution."

READ MORE: GP surgeries 'collapsing' as medics flee overseas and junior doctors 'quit for better-paid jobs in finance'

He confirmed that, if members vote in favour, they "will begin with a full withdrawal of our labour for 72 hours". 

The ballot does not include an option for any industrial action short of a strike.

"We understand the seriousness of this," said Dr Smith.

"But the situation we find ourselves in is equally serious. The very future of our NHS – and the people who work in it – is at stake."

Scottish Labour's health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said Health Secretary Humza Yousaf - who is running for the SNP leadership - had "done nothing to make this right".

She said: “We only very narrowly avoided a nursing strike, and now Humza Yousaf – the worst Health Secretary in the history of devolution - is doing little to avoid possible strike chaos.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said the Health Secretary has offered to meet with the BMA.

He said the trade union had demanded a pay rise of more than 35% - 23.5% plus RPI inflation - which was "simply unaffordable".

He added: "We been very open about the real fiscal challenges we face, have explored all options for 2022/23, and there's no additional money for pay without cutting funding to the NHS and other public services."