Consultant England

Last updated:

Consultants - how contract negotiations affect you

Latest update - 12 May 2017

Read our brief FAQs on the latest update on the consultant contract negotiations.

If you have any queries about this update, please contact our employment advisers.

Has the 2018 contract now been agreed?

No, at the time of publishing (12 May 2017) the details of the new contract have not yet been finalised. Our talks commenced in September 2013 and discussions are still ongoing.

How have the negotiations gone?

These negotiations were demanded by the government rather than being sought by either the BMA or consultants. We have listened to our members' priorities and have tried to secure these in negotiations. The process has been slow and the talks have taken longer than we anticipated but progress has been made.

What were we aiming to get from a new contract that was lacking in the 2003 one? What did the government want?

The government wanted:

  1. Removal of s3p6 - right to decline weekend elective work
  2. Removal of automatic pay progression
  3. Lower starting salary and lower final salary
  4. Increased out of hours (OOH) work to meet seven day services - no new money
  5. Extended premium time: Mon to Sat, 7am to 10pm
  6. New performance pay scheme

We wanted:

  1. Pay more suitable to CARE
  2. Retention of plain time
  3. Retain starting salary
  4. Safeguards and compensatory rest
  5. Better study leave provision
  6. The choice to remain on the 2003 contract if desired

What are the likely benefits of the proposed 2018 contract?

The new contract would have a two-point pay scale, under which a consultant would move from the starting salary to the top of the scale in six years. This would be beneficial under the career average (CARE) pension scheme, where reaching and maintaining a higher salary earlier is more efficient. There would also be a number of safeguards, including a maximum number of weekends a year, protections for evening work and contractual compensatory rest. The contract offer has not yet been finalised and the finer details of the new contract are subject to change while discussions are still ongoing.

Would I be able to stay on the 2003 contract? Remind me of the details.

Yes, the Department of Health (DoH) and NHS England (NHSE) have agreed to this proposal in principle. You can read the terms and conditions of the 2003 contract, which would not be subject to significant change.

Will plain/premium time be altered?

No, the definition of plain time will remain Monday – Friday, 7am – 7pm. Department of Health and NHS Employers have deferred negotiating any changes to unsocial hours as they have serious concerns about their lack of data, which would be needed to model the costs of such changes.

What finances will be been agreed?

The finances have not been agreed so it would be unwise to go into detail. The new contract would have a two-point pay scale, under which a consultant would move from the starting salary to the top of the scale in five or six years. This would be beneficial under the Career Average (CARE) pension scheme. The starting salary would be no lower than it is currently, with the second pay point reaching as high a level as possible by the end of transition.

All contracts have winners and losers, who are likely to be the winners? Who are the likely losers?

Without full detail of an offer, this is a very difficult question to answer, but, based on current numbers, those in the earlier stages of their consultant careers and those not yet consultants have the most to gain.

In pay terms, if a new two-point pay scale were to be possible, it would require that differential uplifts be agreed. This means that annual uplifts would be targeted towards to new contract to ensure that the second pay point reaches the level that it should by the end of transition. As such, if proposals were approved, the 2003 contract would undergo a period of pay restraint, with limited annual uplifts, while more new money was funneled into the new contract.

Because the two contracts are different, they will impact differently on individuals depending on where they are in their careers. Allowing individuals to choose which of the two contracts was the right one for them could be a way of limiting those who stood to lose out from either contract.

What were the agreed heads of terms for negotiating the new consultant contract?

You can find the original heads of terms here.

Will there be a ballot on any new contract?

As part of its negotiations with the Department of Health, the BMA have been exploring an offer which would allow individuals to choose whether to remain on the 2003 contract or move to a new contract. There are some significant differences between the two contracts and an individual choice may mean that everyone could make the best choice for them.

Under these circumstances a ballot may not be necessary. It is worth emphasising that the contract offer has not yet been finalised and, ultimately, if the proposals are felt to be unsatisfactory they are likely to be rejected by the consultants committee.


Looking for junior doctor contract information?

To find out more about the contract negotiations for junior doctors, please visit the campaign area.

For latest guidance on the junior doctor contract 2016, please see our employment advice area.


Background on consultant contract negotiations