The BMA consultants committee has written to the Prime Minister and to the Health Secretary outlining their key asks to bring the dispute to an end. This comes after what are being described by the BMA as ‘constructive conversations’ between leaders of the consultants committee and Government representatives about how the dispute might be settled.
In the letter Dr Vishal Sharma, the chair of consultants committee, says the BMA has always been clear that, ‘strikes could be avoided if the Government was to present us with a credible offer that we could put to our members. We have been consistent in this view throughout, dating back to before we even balloted for industrial action and that very much remains our position. We are willing to negotiate with government at any stage but for strike action to be stood down, we do need to be able to present our members with an offer and cannot cancel strikes to simply enter talks.’
The letter goes on to say that ‘it is essential that we can reach agreement, not only to bring an end to the current dispute and prevent further strike action as we head into winter but to ensure that the NHS can recruit and retain the highly experienced staff that it needs.’
Dr Sharma writes, ‘we are simply asking for fairness and are demanding an end to real terms pay cuts and a fair mechanism for this pay loss to be corrected. We are seeking a pay package for 2023-24 above the level of RPI inflation for the 12 months until April 2023 (the date at which the award applies) that ensures our pay is not eroded further. This is not dissimilar to the settlement in Scotland for Junior Doctors and demonstrates that this is deliverable.’
Consultants in England have long asked for their pay review body, the DDRB, to have its independence fully restored, and in the letter, Dr Sharma writes, ‘once restored, the new DDRB should be jointly commissioned to review what has happened to consultants pay since its remit was constrained by Government in 2008. The DDRB should then make a fully independent assessment of what a consultant should be paid, considering the quality of recruitment and retention and pay in comparable sectors and its recommendations implemented accordingly.’
The letter concludes saying there is hope that the conversations will continue and that a credible offer will be put forward so that further strike action can be avoided.
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.