Consultants in England agree new pay offer from government

Credit: PA

Consultants have accepted a pay offer, ending a year-long dispute with the government, the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced.

An overwhelming, 83% (62% turnout) of eligible consultant members voted in favour of the offer and the BMA’s consultants committee has now formally accepted it, according to the union.

Members of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) also voted - by 83% - to accept the offer.

The deal includes a 2.85% (£3,000) uplift for those who have been consultants between four and seven years, who under the original offer received no additional uplift, said the BMA.

The offer is in addition to the 6% awarded during the DDRB process last summer.

Their vote brings an end to ongoing strike action, adding to the NHS patient appointment waiting list, which has also been affected by the unresolved junior doctors’ dispute.

The consultants are to receive their pay increases in coming months, which will be backdated to March, the BMA said.

This boost will help reduce gender pay gap in medicine, by delivering a key recommendation made by Professor Dame Jane Dacre in her review on the gender pay gap in medicine.

Consultants will also be offered enhanced shared parental leave.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The end of consultant strike action in the NHS is excellent news for patients.

"It will mean we can continue making progress towards our goal of cutting the waiting lists, which have now fallen for the fourth month in a row.

"Consultants perform a vital role at the heart of the NHS – I’m pleased they’ve accepted this deal, which is fair for them and fair for the taxpayer.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “I hugely value the work of NHS consultants and I am pleased that, after weeks of negotiations, they have accepted this fair and reasonable offer, putting an end to the threat of further strike action.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins Credit: PA

"This deal directly addresses gender pay issues in the NHS and enhances consultants’ parental leave options – representing a fair deal for consultants, patients, and taxpayers.”

Consultants' core contract has not been updated for 20 years and this offer will deliver reform to reflect modern ways of working, such as enhanced shared parental leave, in line with other NHS staff.

The BMA said the deal has also made important changes to the profession’s pay review body (DDRB), which represents “significant progress” in returning it to its “original purpose and independence”.

“These changes mean that the DDRB can no longer ignore the historical losses that doctors have suffered or the fact that countries abroad are competing for UK doctors with the offer of significantly higher salaries, a BMA spokesperson said.

“The offer also improves on the previous proposal to reform the consultant pay scale.”

Talks between the government and the unions were reopened in February after the initial offer was narrowly rejected the previous month.

The deal continues to invest in modernising the consultants’ pay structure – reducing the number of pay points and the time it takes to reach the top, effective from March 1.

The BMA has also agreed to end the use of its rate card, which advises doctors on how much to charge for non-contractual work, including cover during strikes.

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