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BMA insists national terms are essential

Doctors leaders maintain that national terms and conditions are essentialfor doctors, amid signs of regional negotiations for other hospital staff.

Twenty NHS trusts in the southwest of England have each paid £10,000 to sign up to a consortium that claims to ‘modernise the pay agenda’.

But health unions have called this a ‘pay cartel’, designed to push through regional changes that would not have been possible for trusts on their own.

The plans specify Agenda for Change contracts but a scoping document states the review ‘must be all encompassing and across all staff groups’.

Proposals include:

  • A 5 per cent pay cut for staff earning over £55,000
  • Increasing working hours and reducing annual leave
  • A ‘last resort’ of terminating existing contracts and re-employing under new terms.

BMA south-west regional council deputy chair Roger Bulley stressed that national terms and conditions of service were ‘essential’ for doctors.

He warned: ‘If we start breaking up into local terms and conditions of service it will lead to the disintegration of the national health service.'

‘Cynical move’


Former BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum highlighted the issue last month in his final speech to the BMA annual representative meeting, branding it a ‘cynical move to drag down pay’.

Representatives agreed that it was only a matter of time before the promotion of locally determined pay for public sector workers was extended to doctors and they warned that it would negatively affect training and recruitment.


Consortium working group chair and Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Chris Bown said in an earlier statement: ‘The pay bill forms the largest portion of our annual expenditure and as such, it is right that we look at how we are spending that money.’

According to a spokesperson, the south-west pay, terms and conditions consortium's steering group has agreed to develop detailed plans outlining options to ‘preserve and protect employment while safeguarding high quality health services’. The spokesperson said no proposals had been made so far.

The following trusts are involved in the consortium:

  • Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 
  • Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Gloucester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • North Bristol NHS Trust
  • North Devon Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust
  • Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust
  • Royal United Hospital Bath NHS Trust
  • Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust
  • Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust
  • University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust
  • Weston Area Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • 2gether NHS Foundation Trust
  • Devon Partnership NHS Trust
  • Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
  • Dorset HealthCare NHS Foundation Trust

A Department of Health spokesperson said NHS providers had the power to employ staff on terms they considered appropriate, including under the foundation trust laws passed under the previous government. They said this meant employers were free to negotiate any changes to national agreements directly with staff locally or their representatives.

The spokesperson added: ‘We would expect NHS employers and trade unions to work together to ensure the national Agenda for Change pay scheme remains fit for purpose.’