A trade union representing senior doctors in England said its members had begun voting on Monday (15) on whether to take industrial action after the government failed to put forward a “satisfactory” offer on pay.
The British Medical Association (BMA) is urging consultant doctors to vote in favour of strike action in the ballot, which closes on June 27.
The union says consultants’ take-home pay fell 35 per cent between 2008/9 and 2021/22, with the squeeze further compounded by double digit inflation over the last year.
“We have tried to remedy this through weeks of talks with the government,” the BMA said.
“We were hopeful … these talks would have a positive outcome. Sadly, no satisfactory offer on pay has been forthcoming. This left us with no option but to open this ballot for industrial action.”
A vote for action would follow walkouts by tens of thousands of junior doctors in March and April, as well as long-running strikes by other NHS staff, including nurses and paramedics.
The strikes have added to pressure on the National Health Service (NHS), which was already grappling with a staffing crunch and struggling to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, with millions of patients awaiting hospital treatment.
The government says higher pay rises would only worsen inflation.
Earlier this month, the government said it would implement a pay rise for more than one million NHS staff in England after trade unions representing a majority of workers involved in the pay dispute voted to accept a deal.
The Royal College of Nursing rejected the offer however and plans to begin re-balloting nurses later this month over further strike action.