Consultants in England, who go on strike on Thursday and Friday, will do the same next month, as the BMA announces new industrial action dates in response to the Government imposing another real-terms pay cut on doctors.
Last week, the Government announced a derisory, sub-inflation pay award of less than 6% for consultants, once all elements of pay are considered, following a recommendation for the same from the pay review body, the DDRB.
Consultants in England had already announced they will take action on 20 and 21 July unless the Government presented them with an offer than begins to reverse the 35% pay erosion they have experienced, as well as committing to reform the current broken pay review process. With the government announcement roundly failing to do either, and to ensure consultants and trusts are as prepared as possible for further industrial action, the BMA’s consultants committee is announcing further provisional strike dates of 24 and 25 August.
The strike will once again be based on Christmas Day levels of cover, meaning emergency care will still be provided.
Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said:
“The Government has once again imposed a savage real terms pay cut on consultants. When inflation is running at more than 11%, this is nothing short of insulting. Consultants have always been clear that industrial action is a last resort but in the face of a Government intent on devaluing consultants’ expertise and their lack of regard for the impact this is having on the NHS, we have been left with no choice. “We’ve had our pay cut year after year, put our lives on the line during a pandemic and now are managing a record backlog of care. The Prime Minister says cutting these waiting lists is a priority but then undermines his own policy by showing he doesn’t value those charged with delivering it. Cutting pay once again shows the Government’s complete disregard for the profession.
“Meanwhile, there can be no better demonstration of the need to reform the pay review system for doctors than our pay review body, recommending a further real terms pay cut on top of the successive pay cuts over the last 15 years, at a point when the profession has been pushed to take industrial action and are leaving the NHS. “There is now no longer any doubt about the supposed ‘independence’ of the pay review body – with even a Conservative backbencher finally admitting last week that the Government ‘basically rig’ the process.
“This “final offer” and flat refusal to engage in further talks has left us with no option but to continue our action. We have therefore announced further strike dates in August and will announce further dates in due course. We will have always tried to give as much notice of dates as possible in order to help our colleagues prepare and minimise the impact on patients. But the Government must also understand that we will continue to stand up for consultants and, if necessary, are in this for the long haul. More than 80% of consultants in our ballot voted for industrial action and this week’s announcement will only strengthen their resolve.
“Consultants are the NHS’s most experienced, highly-skilled clinicians, and are responsible not just for providing specialist care to patients, but also leading entire services and training the doctors of the future. The future of the NHS depends on there being consultants within it, but attacks on their pay will drive them away – from the health service and from the country – with devastating consequences.”
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.
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