The British Medical Association is offering the Government the opportunity to end the pay dispute with consultants in England - that is currently seeing them striking1 alongside junior doctors - by inviting ministers to talks facilitated by the conciliation service ACAS.
Consultant leaders from the BMA have been clear throughout the pay dispute that their door remains open to the Government for negotiations, but the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care has refused to meet them now for 190 days, citing the Government position that no talks can go ahead while strike dates are scheduled.
With no future strike dates presently announced for consultants, BMA consultants committee chair Dr Vishal Sharma has now written to the Prime Minister2 offering to enter negotiations, with ACAS facilitating these talks if necessary. Dr Sharma once again underlines that further strike action can be avoided if the Government puts forward a credible offer3 that the BMA can present to members.
ACAS has indicated that it is prepared to facilitate talks if the Government is willing, and the BMA has written to the service to formally request its involvement.
Dr Sharma will address a rally of striking doctors outside the Conservative Party conference today alongside other BMA leaders. Highlighting that the Government is currently refusing to enter talks, let alone presenting BMA consultants representatives with a credible offer that they can put to members, he will say:
“They have suggested they won't talk to us while strikes are called. This is a ridiculous position for the Government to take. They should be doing everything, right up until the last minute, to avert strike action. Our door has always been open, and that remains the case.
“To demonstrate our commitment to resolving this dispute, yesterday I wrote to the Prime Minister. We have not yet called further strikes beyond this week, and have given the Government four weeks from today to enter formal talks and present us with a credible offer. We have also indicated that we are willing to involve ACAS to conciliate a resolution.
Dr Sharma will say that if no credible offer is forthcoming within four weeks, consultants will announce further strike dates.
“The ball is well and truly in the Prime Minister’s court. The Government has run out of excuses not to negotiate in good faith. But they need to know that, if they fail to negotiate, we are not going anywhere.”
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.
- Consultants and junior doctors in England are currently on strike, between 7am Monday 2 October to 7am Thursday 5th October. Christmas Day cover will be provided, meaning emergency care continues.
- Read the full letter from Dr Vishal Sharma to the Prime Minister.
- For consultants in England, the BMA’s consultants committee is asking for a pay package for 2023-24 above the level of RPI inflation for the 12 months until April 2023; the independence of the pay review body, the DDRB, to be fully restored; and a review by the new DDRB of what has happened to consultants' pay since its remit was constrained by Government in 2008, with the recommendations of its fully independent assessment of what a consultant should be paid implemented accordingly.