The association has secured a guarantee that specialty doctors who opt to switch to the new specialty doctor contract receive at least the same basic pay this year as specialty doctors who remain on their old contract.
The commitment, termed ‘pay continuity’, reached with the Welsh Government and NHS Wales Employers comes after concerns were raised following the salary increases set out in the 2021/22 pay award, which would have inadvertently resulted in some SAS doctors experiencing a cut in basic pay by switching to the new contract.
To ensure that no doctor is financially disadvantaged as a result of updating their professional terms, specialty doctors working in Wales will either see a higher salary on transfer or maintenance of their current level of basic pay if this is higher than the amount set out in the 2021 contract pay scales.
No pay gap
Speaking about the commitment on pay, BMA Welsh SAS committee chair Ali Nazir (pictured) said he felt the agreement was a sign of good faith and effectively nullified a potential disincentive for doctors considering switching to the new contract.
He said: ‘I’m delighted we’ve reached an agreement with Welsh Government and NHS Wales Employers to provide pay continuity for SAS doctors wishing to transfer to the new contract.
‘SAS doctors can now access the wider benefits the new contract offers, including safeguards to protect work-life balance and a shorter pay scale with higher early career earnings. It’s a significant offer for SAS doctors in Wales which the Welsh SAS committee is pleased to endorse.’
Plans to introduce a revised and improved contract for specialty doctors along with a new specialist doctor contract in Wales were approved in March this year by SAS doctors in the country.
Providing safeguards aimed at protecting work-life balance, increased recognition of on-call work and greater provision for shared parental leave, the 2021 contracts also saw the formation of an SAS advocate role, designed to support doctors facing issues such as bullying and harassment in the workplace. The pay continuity agreement ensures specialty doctors do not have to choose between accessing these improvements and maintaining their level of pay.
Doctors wishing to switch to the new contract must make arrangements to do so before 30 November.
To assist SAS doctors considering whether to switch to the 2021 contract terms, NHS Wales Employers has created a pay modelling tool, while the BMA is due to host a webinar at 7pm on 15 November to provide further information and guidance.
The event will revisit features of the new contracts as well as clarify the transfer process and how pay continuity will work.