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Government fails to budge on consultants' pay

Consultants Conference 2018
HARWOOD: Consultants would continue to see a squeeze on their pay

Consultants have expressed their bitter disappointment at the Government’s refusal to improve its ‘demoralising’ and ‘derisory’ pay settlement for consultants in England.

Ministers at the Department of Health and Social Care have said that consultants will receive annual uplifts of just 2 per cent over the next three years, following a meeting with the BMA on 9 October.

BMA consultants committee chair Rob Harwood said that the settlement which fell below the rate of inflation meant that consultants would continue to see a squeeze on their pay which, over the past decade, had resulted in a 19 per cent fall in real-terms take home income.

He added that the decision would reinforce the belief among consultants that they were the least valued members of NHS staff in the eyes of the Government.

He said, in a message to members: ‘In July of this year, consultants were awarded a demoralising 1.5 per cent pay award, payable for only half of the year.

‘In a subsequent meeting with [health secretary] Matt Hancock, we received assurances that the effects of this year’s pay award would be mitigated by increased funding as part of new consultant contract. Instead the Department for Health and Social Care informed us that consultants were not a priority for increased funding and that all that could be offered was a 2 per cent per year pay award for the next three years.

‘The steady erosion of consultants' pay is hugely damaging to morale, recruitment and retention. Chronic staff shortages and rota gaps across the NHS are forcing consultants to work longer, more intense hours and half are affected by work-related stress each year.

‘We have written to the secretary of state requesting an urgent meeting. If we do not get movement on this offer, we do not think it is in the interest of members to continue contract negotiations. Instead we will consult with members to explore other options to bring about a better deal for consultants in England.’

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