The BMA – the country’s biggest trade union for doctors – is to survey tens of thousands of England’s most senior hospital doctors to find out what they think of the pay award, and what action, if any they want the BMA to take on their behalf. The survey gets underway today and it will ask consultants for their views of the uplift, the impact the award has had on their morale and whether or not they wish to consider any form of action, including possible industrial action. The findings will be reviewed by the BMA and help determine whether there is a need to proceed to a formal ballot.
Last week the Government announced it was to give consultants in England a 3% uplift. Whilst this represents an increase compared to the paltry 1% offer from Government at the start of the year, it remains well below what consultants had been calling for.
Since March of this year, the BMA’s consultants committee has lobbied for a pay award of at least 5% as part of the Fairness for the frontline campaign. With the retail price index already at 3.9% and the consumer price index currently predicted to increase to close to 4% later this year, this so-called uplift should be seen for what it really is – another real-terms pay cut.
To make matters worse, the overall investment made by government is below 3% as the uplift is not being applied to Clinical Excellence Awards. Given the extra-ordinary efforts of consultants over the last 16 months, the decision to effectively slash the value of these excellence payments is incomprehensible.
The Chair of the BMA’s Consultants Committee, Dr Vishal Sharma said,
“A below inflation pay award of 3% is bitterly disappointing, and it shows once again how little the Government values the dedication and expertise of consultants in England, many of whom have been brought to the brink of breaking point by the pressures of the past 18 months. It is also concerning to see reports that the Government is suggesting to fund this rise from within the existing NHS budget and through a potential increase in national insurance contributions. Not only does this result in staff part funding their own pay uplift, but any uplift should be fully funded by Government and should not lead to cuts elsewhere across the health and social care service.
“What we do next is of vital importance to all consultants in England, which is why in the coming days we will be asking all consultant members to tell us what they think of the pay award and what action, including potential industrial action they would like to see from the BMA. Consultants have given their all in leading the fight against COVID-19. Some at the expense of their own health. Others with their lives. And this pressure will only intensify as we begin to tackle the backlog of delayed treatment caused by the pandemic.”
Since May, almost 2,500 consultants have written to their MP demanding the Government delivers a fair and significant pay uplift for consultants in England, Consultants, more than any other group of healthcare workers, have been hit hardest by years of below-inflationary pay rises from successive governments, with the estimated take home pay for the average consultant in England falling by 28.6% in real terms.
The survey will run until the 16th August. Junior doctors will also be launching a similar consultation with members in coming days.
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.