While consultants vote on pay offer, SAS doctors MUST win their ballot

by John Edwin Vinu, SASC UK deputy chair for negotiations

Why an offer for one branch of practice doesn’t change anything for another

Location: England
Published: Friday 1 December 2023

On Monday 27 November, the BMA’s consultants committee announced that they will put an offer made to them by the Government to members in a referendum. Consultant members in England will vote on whether they accept it. 

SAS doctors have asked how this offer will impact our pay negotiations, so I am writing this post to provide clarification on some key points. The most important thing to remember is that it's as crucial as ever that we win our ballot: 

  • An offer to consultants does not guarantee a similar offer to SAS doctors. Each cohort of secondary care doctors are conducting their own negotiations, and the Government is not required to “match” offers made to different groups. 
  • Negotiations are not over for SAS doctors. We need all the leverage we can get to secure the best offer possible – that is where you, our members, come in. 
  • Consultants received their offer off the back of a successful statutory ballot and industrial action. This gave them a stronger hand in negotiations.  
  • SAS doctors are not currently in this position – we are still balloting members, and so do not have the same mandate as consultants.  
  • We need all SAS members to help us win this ballot. As well as a majority “yes” vote, we need a minimum 50% turnout of SAS members to cast their vote. This is a legal requirement. If we do not meet this threshold, we lose the ballot. 
  • You cannot vote in a statutory ballot online – you need to send your postal ballot. We have heard there’s been some confusion on this, as we had an online indicative ballot shortly before we opened our statutory ballot. The indicative ballot has no legal standing, and was simply used to gauge interest before deciding to take the next step. If you haven’t posted your vote, you haven’t taken part in our statutory ballot, which will reduce our turnout.  
  • We continue to negotiate with the Government on your behalf. If and when we receive an offer we find credible, we will open up a referendum, and you will be able to vote to either accept or reject it.  
  • But we need to demonstrate members’ strength of feeling, and show that SAS doctors are as committed to improving their working lives as consultants are. If the ballot fails, the Government will have little reason to negotiate with us further.  

For SAS doctors, there is still everything to play for, so we need all eligible members to take part in our ballot. SAS doctors are at risk of being left behind by the Government – only you, and your vote, can prevent this happening. If you haven’t already, vote yes today.  

Be sure to: 

  • Return your paper ballot by post – this was sent in an orange envelope. If you didn’t receive it request a replacement ballot right away so it has time to reach you before the deadline. 
  • Post your ballot paper in the freepost envelope by 11 December so it has time to arrive before the ballot closes on 18 December. 
  • If you’re not a member, join the BMA by 4 December so you can get your chance to vote in the ballot.  
  • Speak to your colleagues! Remind them of the deadlines above to join and vote. There’s no substitute for face to face conversations, but you can also help by posting about the ballot on social media and in your SAS WhatsApp groups.