BMA announces potential strike dates for consultants in England if ballot is successful

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Wednesday 7 June 2023
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Hospital consultants in England will go on strike on 20th and 21st July if their ballot, which closes at the end of June, is successful and the Government continues to refuse to come forward with a credible pay offer.

The BMA is currently balloting its consultant members in England for industrial action over repeated real-terms pay cuts, with the result expected shortly after the vote closes on 27th June.

In the event of a successful result and the absence of an acceptable offer, during the two days of action consultants will provide Christmas Day cover, meaning they will continue to provide all emergency services but routine services will need to be paused.

Given the unique position of consultants as the NHS’s most senior clinicians, whose roles cannot be covered by other staff, the BMA is announcing its potential strike dates before the ballot has closed to give hospital trusts and colleagues good notice so that preparations can be made to reschedule appointments, prioritise the most urgent cases and ensure patient safety during any action.

Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said:

“Strike action is not inevitable and it is well within the Government’s gift to present us with a reasonable offer that would stop industrial action in its tracks.

“But if this isn’t forthcoming, we are committed to action that is effective and that is safe. As the most senior and experienced doctors working in hospitals, no one can cover for consultants – and that’s why we’re giving our members, our colleagues and employers lengthy time to prepare, even ahead of our ballot closing. That way they can manage their lists and prioritise those patients most in need of care. We are also reiterating that any strike action will still deliver Christmas Day levels of care – meaning emergency departments will still be open and staffed with consultants.

“We know consultants do not take decisions around industrial action lightly, but this isn’t just about pay – it’s about protecting the future of the NHS. If we sit by and accept further real-terms pay cuts we risk losing more of our most senior and experienced clinicians at a time when the NHS and patients need them most.“We want to create an environment in the NHS that consultants want to work in, and that junior doctors can see their future in. Industrial action is a last resort, but there is simply no justification for consultants today being valued a third less than they were 15 years ago1.

“The Government now has six weeks to come back to the table, with a fair and reasonable proposal that can prevent any industrial action from having to take place.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Consultants in England have seen their take-home pay cut by 35% since 2008/09. The BMA is demanding the end of this continual pay erosion and that the Government must fix pay, beginning with agreement with the BMA on the pay award for 2023/24, and a commitment to a mechanism to redress the long-term reduction in consultant pay.