The BMA consultants committee has put a new pay offer from Government to members which could draw a close to continuing industrial action in England.
Following a month of ‘intense negotiations’ the Government has offered a 4.95 per cent investment in pay.
If the offer is accepted, the changes will be applicable from January 2024, in addition to the six per cent pay uplift already awarded for this year, and paid retrospectively in April 2024.
It makes provision for ‘much-needed changes’ to the consultants’ pay-scale structure, which will result in fewer points at which pay increases. Consultants will reach the top of the pay scale five years sooner than under the current scheme.
The offer includes an increase to the starting consultant salary and an increase to the salary at the top of the new pay-scale structure. The exact amount a consultant will receive under the offer will depend on the current stage of their career.
These proposals will mean consultants will receive a minimum of 6 per cent in 2023-24 as a result of the previously implemented pay award, imposed by the Government in the summer.
The majority of consultants will also receive an additional uplift, of up to 12.8 per cent, depending on their pay point, and this will apply were applicable from January 2024. This is also separate to any Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration pay award for 2024/25.
The BMA says the proposed reforms will ‘particularly benefit women who take time out for caring responsibilities and who can be disadvantaged under the current system’, and ‘extend rights for enhanced shared parental leave’ therefore making ‘considerable progress at tackling the gender pay gap in medicine’.
The offer also includes commitments to reform the DDRB.
The BMA will be given a say in the selection of members and the Government has agreed to no longer include information on economic performance in its remit letters to the DDRB and remove references to Government inflation targets from the DDRB’s terms of reference.
End in sight
If the offer is accepted, the BMA will call an end to strike action and to stop promoting the extra-contractual rate card for consultants in England. However, a re-ballot on industrial action remains open until 18 December and if passed would enable consultants to call further strikes in 2024 if the offer is rejected.
Vishal Sharma (pictured above), BMA consultants committee chair, said: ‘We are pleased that after a month of intense talks and more than six months of strike action we never wanted to take, we have now got an offer we can put to members. It is a huge shame that it has needed consultants to take industrial action to get the Government to this point when we called for talks many months ago.
‘The 4.95 per cent investment and much-needed changes to the pay scale system comes after we successfully persuaded the Government to reform the punitive pension taxation laws earlier this year, and we also now have commitments to reforming the pay review process, which has been a key ask from the profession throughout our dispute.
‘Only by restoring the independence of this process can we hope to restore consultant pay over the coming years.
‘How each consultant will benefit will depend on their individual circumstances, and we will be providing them with as much detail as we can, so they are able to look carefully through the details to help them decide whether to accept the offer.’
Detailed information about the offer and how it will affect them personally will be provided to consultant members in the coming days.
BMA members will be given the opportunity to vote upon these proposals in a referendum, which is expected to open next month and close in January of next year.
Junior doctors remain in pay negotiations with the Government, with details kept confidential while discussions are active.
In an email message, BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Rob Laurenson and Vivek Trivedi thanked members for their patience and perseverance.
They said: ‘While it is for [CC] to communicate the details of the offer along with any merits or shortfalls, it’s important to emphasise the impact that the determination and solidarity of all doctors has had in securing an additional improved offer for this year. Your collective action works.’
They reiterated that any offer made to JDC would be put to members.
‘We will be in touch with you soon, whether that is with an offer or dates of further action,’ they said. ‘The choice to end this dispute, as ever, remains with government.’
Junior doctors in Northern Ireland and Wales are balloting for industrial action. Junior doctors in Scotland accepted a pay offer earlier this year.
Specialist, associate specialists and specialty doctors are also balloting for industrial action, while also being in negotiations with Government in order to end their dispute. Their vote is open until 18 December.