Consultant England

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Consultants - how contract negotiations affect you

Latest update - consultant contract (England) November 2017

As many of you will know, the consultant contract negotiating process has been delayed because of the election, purdah, and now the uncertainty over Government pay policy in the public sector.

We want to secure the best possible deal and that means we must wait to see if more funding becomes available in the coming months.

We are awaiting an announcement on public sector pay in the Autumn Budget to inform discussions about funding for a new contract. As a result, there is now likely to be a further delay with implementation of the new contract now expected in Autumn 2019 at the earliest.

Be assured that as soon as we have more information to share we will be communicating widely with membership, providing detail on the Government’s proposals and helping members determine what the new contract might mean for them.

We have also been exploring a deal during negotiations in which existing Clinical Excellence Award (CEA) holders, would be able to retain the awards they have already earned, and we are working together to develop a successor awards scheme which continues to encourage and fairly reward excellence across several domains.

Currently our legal action aimed at confirming that CEAs are contractual, has been stayed, and negotiators have been discussing recently the potential parameters of an out of court settlement, which would enable consultants with CEAs to retain them, ensure that local awards rounds are run, and provide a protection for national award holders where these are not successfully renewed.


FAQs on the consultant contract negotiations

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.

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

You can find the original heads of terms here.


Do you have further questions on these or related issues?

Contact our employment advisers


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