Live revision! Join us for our free exam revision livestreams Watch now

Teaching activity

In the News Teaching Activity – could higher pay help stem the problem with retaining doctors in the NHS? (Jan 2024)

Elizabeth Veal

8th January 2024

Junior doctors are striking for six days, the longest ever time this January – they are demanding higher pay. Is there a problem with the supply of labour by doctors to the NHS that better pay can resolve?

The British Medical Association (BMA) stated they would halt the walkout if the government presented a "credible" offer. The BMA have asked for a 35% pay increase, flexible across years. Health Secretary Victoria Atkins insisted on ending the strike before negotiations. Emergency care has faced disruption, with some hospitals declaring critical incidents due to staffing shortages. Routine hospital services, including surgeries, experienced significant delays. The strike coincided with increased pressures on the healthcare system, raising concerns about the impact on urgent services like cancer care and maternity care. However, the junior doctors may have a case. 1 in 7 UK-trained doctors now move abroad; while the average worker’s real pay has fallen 2.5% since 2009, for junior doctors, the figure is 24%. As their relative position in the income distribution falls, our doctors can increasingly find countries where the pay is better. But surveys suggest pay restoration may not be enough – workplace culture, burnout and stress are twice as likely to be cited as reasons for moving abroad than financial considerations. The government’s chosen tough stance on pay may be adding to the doctors feeling of being under-appreciated, especially after the immense work put in during the pandemic. (Data source: FT)

Junior doctors' strike: Give us credible offer and we'll end strikes, says BMA - BBC News

1 What is a strike? What is the role of the British Medical Association (BMA) in the junior doctors’ strike?

2 What are the key factors that influence the labour supply of doctors to the NHS?

3 Discuss the possible policies that could be put in place to ensure the future supply of doctors to the UK’s healthcare industry.

Download our suggested answers for this resource here

Elizabeth Veal

Liz has taught Economics for over 25 years, including several years as Head of Economics at leading schools.

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.