According to a survey by the British Medical Association, four in 10 junior doctors are actively planning to leave the NHS as soon as they can find another job.
The survey found that poor pay and working conditions were among the main reasons that junior doctors wish to leave. One third of respondents who wanted to leave plan to work abroad within the next 12 months, with Australia being the most popular destination.
The survey was released by the BMA as part of its chair of council Professor Philip Banfield's new year message. Banfield said that the NHS "will simply not be able to cope" if that many junior doctors did in fact leave within the next 12 months.
He said: “The situation is severe. A third of junior doctors are planning to work in another country. Four in 10 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.”
Junior doctors are being balloted about potential strike action on 9 January against a backdrop of their pay falling by more than a quarter in real terms since 2008-09, one of the steepest cuts of any group of public sector workers over the past 15 years. If, as it widely expected, they vote in favour of industrial action they will join nurses and ambulance workers on the picket line in 2023.
Co-chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, Dr Vivek Trivedi, said the survey results were “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 government wants ‘move to Australia’ to stay off the new year resolution lists of junior doctors this year, it is going to have to start by reversing the 26% 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.”