The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh ("the College") has this evening responded to the vote by junior doctors in Scotland in favour of industrial action. 

Commenting, Professor Andrew Elder, President of the College, said:

Nobody working in healthcare in Scotland will be surprised to hear the result of the BMA ballot of junior doctors. An almost unanimous endorsement of industrial action, in a high percentage turnout, follows the result seen in England some months ago.

The NHS could not function without the industry, commitment, knowledge and skills of its junior doctors. High quality patient care is highly dependent on their presence in our hospitals - day and night, weekend and weekday, three hundred and sixty five days a year. We are deeply concerned that our junior doctors, in training and in other posts, feel so undervalued that they see no option other than to take industrial action.

We are keenly aware of the concerns and frustration of doctors throughout the NHS and the intense workload pressures that they, along with other NHS professionals, are facing as a result of workforce shortages. These are issues that must be addressed as a matter of urgency and junior doctors have the support of the College in addressing them.

Terms and conditions of employment are not however within the remit of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, nor any other medical royal college – we are not trades unions. While we fully recognise the right of all individuals to withdraw their labour, we will not comment on the specific details of the BMA Scottish Junior Doctors’ Committee position.

Our College’s prime mission is the maintenance of standards of patient care. This College firmly believes that standards of patient care in the NHS will be harmed if workplace conditions for junior doctors are not improved. We will not only fail to attract doctors into an already under-doctored NHS, but fail to retain them. We are in a global competition for medical staff – the NHS risks losing that competition.

Although this result follows that seen in England, the position in Scotland is not identical. The College welcomes the fact that the Scottish Government has already entered negotiations with the BMA in Scotland, and whilst a solution has not yet been reached, we understand that talks are set to continue.

We urge both parties to continue engaging as a matter of priority, with a constructive and flexible solution in mind. Specifically, the option of a negotiated solution that avoids strike action still exists.

We urge such a solution.




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