Consultants the least valued in the NHS – Government outlines derisory future pay awards
This week (October 2018), the Department of Health and Social Care (DoHSC) presented the BMA with a new pay settlement for consultants in England. We are bitterly disappointed in their latest sub-inflationary offer of a 2% uplift each year for three years. This comes at a time when the Prime Minister has been talking about the end of austerity, has pledged an increase of £20.5 billion for the NHS England budget and other staff groups are receiving significantly higher investment.
In July 2018, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock outlined his vision for the NHS. He spoke passionately about how much he loved the NHS. He spoke about how heart-breaking it was that NHS staff felt so undervalued staff felt and how he would fight and champion NHS staff. However, it seems that these views don’t extend to hard-working, over stretched consultants.
A 'highly unacceptable' pay offer
In July of this year, consultants were ‘awarded‘ a demoralising 1.5% pay award, payable for only half of the year. In a recent survey, 75% of consultants told us that this offer was highly unacceptable and 85% of consultants said that morale had worsened as a result.
In a subsequent meeting with Matt Hancock, we received assurances that the effects of this year’s pay award would be mitigated by increased funding as part of a new consultant contract. Instead the DoHSC informed us that consultants were not a priority for increased funding and that all that could be offered was a 2% per year pay award for the next 3 years.
This sub-inflationary offer fails to address the concerns of consultants in England who over the last decade have lost 19% of real terms take home pay. Instead it will inflame the justifiable anger felt by consultants following the most recent pay award – the lowest in the health sector - that amounted to an average weekly uplift of a paltry £6.10 after tax.
Consultants not a priority for the NHS
The steady erosion of consultants pay is hugely damaging to morale, recruitment and retention. Chronic staff shortages and rota gaps across the NHS are forcing consultants to work longer, more intense hours and half are affected by work related stress each year.
The DoHSC have shown that consultants are not a priority for the NHS, the level of the offer suggests that consultants truly are valued least out of all health workers. If the government truly values high quality patient care, then the time has come to invest in the consultant workforce – in Matt Hancock’s words, “a deal that pays fairly, improves morale, values doctors – and in doing so meets our shared aim of improving patient care”.
What the BMA is doing
We have written to the Secretary of State requesting an urgent meeting. If we do not get movement on this offer, we do not think it is in the interest of members to continue contract negotiations. Instead we will consult with members to explore other options to bring about a better deal for consultants in England.