Industrial action in the NHS - practical advice for paediatric trainees and SAS doctors

We fully appreciate you may have questions about the effects of any industrial action by paediatric doctors on you and your training. Here we provide advice on how you can continue your training - from managing your ePortfolio, being flexible around reflections and working with training units and schools to ensure your training needs are met.
Last modified
10 January 2023


Following the announcement in July 2022 of the below inflation pay increases for NHS staff, alongside a rising cost of living, a number of NHS unions are currently consulting their members for views on industrial action (indicative ballot), formally balloting (statutory ballot) or taking industrial action.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) confirmed on 9 November 2022 that strike action is going ahead across the UK. They are now taking forward a second wave of strike action in England in mid-January. You can find out more on the RCN website, including their new 'strike hub'.

The British Medical Association (BMA) launched its ballot of junior doctors on 9 January. This will be running until 20 February. Their press release states that “if a majority of junior doctors vote in favour of strike action, with at least a 50 per cent turnout, they will walk out for 72 hours in March. You can find the BMA’s advice to members.

As a College we are not involved in the negotiation of terms and conditions of contracts, or pay discussions. This is the remit of the unions as highlighted above.  

Furthermore, as an organisation we are absolutely clear that the decision on whether or not to take industrial action is a personal choice. We do not have a role in negotiating contracts or terms and conditions – but it does sit with the unions, who have the staff, resources and expertise to take this forward. 

We are, however, aware of specific questions raised by paediatric trainees and SAS doctors through our Trainees Oversight Committee about what industrial action may mean for their training. We have therefore put together some information to help paediatric trainees navigate the current environment.

This web page contains:

  • information to support trainees as nurses and advanced clinical practitioners consider strike action 
  • advice from paediatricians on how trainees can continue their training during any periods of industrial action, or severe service disruption 
  • consideration of financial pressures and the rising cost of living.

This is not an exhaustive list and there are a range of organisations that might be able to provide more support and answers to your questions, some of which are linked here. You may also wish to speak with your local training units to ensure your training continues.

We will add to this web page if more information becomes available and known to us. 

General principles during industrial action or unusual service pressures

How can I continue my training during any periods of industrial action?

Our Trainees Oversight Committee has received some questions about the impact on training during possible industrial action within the health service, combined with winter pressures. We fully appreciate that as a trainee paediatrician you may have questions about the effects of industrial action by paediatric doctors on you and your training.

As a College we are here to support all our members with their education and lifelong careers.

We have also pulled together some general advice from paediatricians: 

  • Keeping your ePortfolio up to date. As always, we remind trainees that the best way to manage your portfolio is to keep up to date as you go along. Try to make the most of quieter times to get ahead with assessments and portfolio.
  • Maintaining flexibility for arrangements around reflections, note taking or discussions. During busy times there are plenty of opportunities for learning and developing capabilities, but there may not be time for formal assessments or full reflections. You might consider making brief notes after a shift and returning to them later to record full reflections, discuss with supervisors or complete formal assessments when time allows.
  • Reviewing your evidence logs and assessment guides. The assessment table for the 2022/23 training year was revised but retains many of the modifications put in during the COVID-19 pandemic ) and the number of mandatory assessments is small. Learning and development can be evidenced in many ways including reflection and using the ‘service experience’ category in the development log.
  • Exception reporting in England: Trainees should continue to exception report for missed training opportunities, even when this is unavoidable due to exceptional service pressures. This helps departments to evidence training and service gaps and work towards solutions.
  • Working with training units and schools to ensure your training needs are still met. Some specific and formal training opportunities may have to be deferred during times of service disruption whether that is due to strike action or unusual service pressures. This may be unavoidable to maintain patient safety, and we know that training often needs flexibility; however, we would expect training units and schools to facilitate catch up of any outstanding training once things settle down. This might include prioritising clinic attendance  or re-scheduling clinical commitments to take the opportunity to acquire specific technical capabilities. Please talk to your supervisor and/or Training Programme Director (TPD) if you feel your training has been affected.

We have also put together some general FAQs for all members on industrial action

Resources for financial pressures and rising cost of living

We have received concerns that the rising cost of living is affecting trainees. If you or a colleague is looking for support there are a range of organisations, services and websites which can offer help. The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has put together a list of charities and organisations that provide support to clinicians in need, with contact details.

You may wish to have a look at the BMA’s advice on industrial action and rising cost of living.

Further information 

If you are interested in the work of the Trainees Oversight Committee and Trainees Network and how to get involved, please check out our web page.