Consultants in England will go on strike on 19th and 20th September if the Government continues to refuse to agree to pay talks and present the profession with a credible offer, the BMA announces today.
Following a two-day strike in July, the BMA has once again written to the Health Secretary, Steve Barclay,1 to invite him to discuss pay and reform of the doctors’ pay review body, the DDRB, and put an end to strikes.
Currently, with the Government refusing to even to talk about pay – let alone any kind of credible offer being put on the table – consultants in England are already planning to take industrial action on 24th and 25th August. In keeping with the BMA consultants committee’s aim to ensure that hospitals and colleagues have sufficient time to prepare and prioritise patients who need care the most, dates for September have been announced well in advance. Once again, the September days will consist of “Christmas Day” cover, whereby all emergency services will remain in place. The fact that further dates have been announced also demonstrates consultants’ resolve and commitment to securing a better deal that begins to address the huge real-terms pay erosion they have experienced since 2008/09, and resetting the pay review process to its original principles so that the NHS can recruit and retain its most senior doctors.
Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said:
“It is now 133 days since the Secretary of State last met with us – demonstrating the Government’s complete disregard for the expertise and value of consultants, and the very future of the health service and its patients.
“We are once again appealing to the Health Secretary to return to the table and discuss both pay and reform of the rigged pay review process, so that we can reach a point where strikes are not necessary.
“Consultants will go out on strike at the end of this month, and for a further two days in September – demonstrating our resolve and clearly signalling to Government that we’re in this for the long haul. However, neither of these strikes need to take place at all if the Government drops its intransigent position.
“The Prime Minister has blamed the record waiting lists in the NHS on staff taking a stand for their pay and conditions – a claim that has backfired spectacularly. Waiting lists were rising steadily due to the Government’s underfunding of the NHS and were at a record high before any industrial action started and even before the pandemic.
“He says that everyone must play their part to bring the waiting list down but his refusal to negotiate a deal that would ensure the NHS can recruit and retain doctors to address the current workforce crisis is the biggest barrier to achieving this.
“No consultant wants to take strike action but unless we take a stand, we risk losing our most experienced doctors, putting the very future of the NHS at risk. It’s not too late to avert these strikes and we call upon the Health Secretary to meet with us urgently.”
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.