Standing up for the profession: BMA overturns pay freeze for senior SAS doctors in Wales

Ali Nazir chair of the BMA Welsh staff, associate specialist and specialty doctor committee reflects on a recent victory

Location: Wales
Published: Friday 8 December 2023

Pay victory!

During these challenging times, it is with much satisfaction that we can confirm that, thanks to months of campaigning by BMA Cymru Wales, the Welsh Government has taken the decision to overturn the unjust pay freeze for senior specialty doctors in Wales.

The freeze, which was announced by Welsh Government in July 2022, affected specialty doctors on the top pay point of the 2008 contract pay scale. Instead of rewarding them for their hard work, experience, and dedication with a proper annual pay rise like their colleagues, they were unfairly singled out and just handed a 4.5% non-consolidated bonus payment with the top pay point itself being frozen going forward.

It was unacceptable that those who have shown commitment to working at the SAS doctor grade in Wales should receive lower pay and be disadvantaged owing to the introduction of an alternative contract which was to no fault of their own.


Our intervention

As soon as the freeze was announced we wrote to the minister for health and social services, Eluned Morgan, to express our anger at the decision. At a time when pay was being eroded anyway, this decision to single out one group of doctors was unfair to doctors and bad for patients too.

In September 2023, in the latest pay circular, the minister for health and social services Eluned Morgan confirmed that, not only would the 4.5% non-consolidated payment still not get consolidated into basic pay, but doctors newly promoted to the top pay point would not get it at all. 

Recognising the unfairness of this decision, and the equal pay and equalities issues it would create, the BMA launched pre-action proceedings for a judicial review of the most recent decision.  


The results

As a result, last week the Welsh Government informed us they would be consolidating the 4.5% bonus payment into basic pay for all doctors affected, backdated to April 2022. 

This is a significant win for SAS doctors. The decision to not increase specialty doctor pay in line with all other doctors was wrong and should not have happened. After significant lobbying from the BMA, we are glad the Welsh Government has now decided to reverse that decision, increasing pay and pension for senior specialty doctors. 

This decision will take effect from the January payroll onwards. For doctors who have been in receipt of the non-consolidated bonus payments, their pension contributions will be claimed retrospectively.

For more details and to see if this affects you, please contact [email protected]