FOUR IN TEN JUNIOR DOCTORS (40 per cent) are actively planning to leave the NHS in England as soon as they can find another job, a survey from the BMA has revealed. Poor pay and working conditions were among the top reasons for junior doctors wanting to leave.

Many of those wanting to quit the NHS plan to work as doctors abroad. According to the survey, a third of junior doctors (33 per cent) are planning to work as doctors in another country in the next twelve months, with Australia being the top choice of destination.

Junior doctors have faced some of the steepest cuts to their pay of any public sector worker over the last fifteen years, with their pay falling by more than a quarter in real terms since 2008/09. Faced with a cost-of-living crisis at home, a recent survey by the BMA found that junior doctors are cutting back on buying food and heating their homes to help make ends meet.

The news comes as the BMA’s chair of council, Professor Philip Banfield, warns that 2023 will be another ‘difficult year’ for the medical profession. On 9 January 2023, junior doctors in England will be balloted for industrial action.

Speaking as part of his first New Year’s message to members of the BMA, Professor Banfield, who became chair of council for the BMA in June of this year, said: “The situation is severe. A third of junior doctors are planning to work in another country. Four in ten say that as soon as they can find another job, they will leave the NHS. The health service will simply not be able to cope.

“For decades the NHS was the envy of the world. But without our doctors’ expertise, the country will get sicker. We will not accept impoverished healthcare for our nation, or acquiesce to those looking to slash pay and drive down living standards for NHS staff. In 2023 we will stand together with patients, an organised workforce ready to act.”

Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, said: “These figures are hugely concerning. If our government doesn’t act now, it doesn’t take a genius to see where this will lead: an exodus of junior doctors to foreign countries, with the ones who stay in the NHS facing an ever-increasing workload –  until they feel they have no option but to leave too or get burnt out.

“If the [UK] government wants ‘move to Australia’ to stay off the New Year’s resolution lists of junior doctors this year, it is going to have to start by reversing the 26 per cent real terms pay cut they have endured since 2008 – or at the very least start speaking with us and stop ignoring our repeated calls to address our pay.”

* The results of the survey were released as part of the BMA chair of council Professor Philip Banfield’s New Year’s message. See a video of Professor Banfield delivering that message here.

* Source: British Medical Association