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Improving pay for consultants in Wales

Consultants in Wales voted in favour of taking strike action over pay. The strength of this vote brought the Welsh Government back to the negotiating table and the Welsh consultants committee has secured a pay offer which it recommends that you vote to accept.

How we got here

During our pay negotiation in August 2023 for the 2023/24 pay year, the final offer made by the Welsh Government was to uplift pay for consultants by just 5%. We firmly rejected this offer and with no other offer on the table, moved to ballot you for industrial action.

The ballot closed on 4 March, and you voted in favour of taking industrial action. We announced a 48-hour strike alongside SAS doctors which was due to start on 16 April 2024.

As a result of sustained pressure from three rounds of strike action by junior doctors and the looming action from senior doctors, we were invited alongside our colleagues from the junior doctor and SAS committees in Wales to enter into pay talks. We called off our April strike action to allow the time and space for negotiations to take place.

Following intense negotiations with the Welsh Government, we are pleased to have reached a final offer from the Welsh Government that we now recommend you accept. These negotiations have also achieved pay offers for junior doctors and SAS doctors that they will be voting on.

Overview of Welsh Government pay offer

Ballot results

Consultants in Wales have voted in favour of taking industrial action over pay.

Turnout:

  • Number of individuals who were entitled to vote in the ballot: 2006
  • Number of votes cast in the ballot: 1395
  • Votes cast in the ballot as a % of individuals who were entitled to vote: 69.54%
  • Number of spoilt or otherwise invalid voting papers returned: 2

Result of voting

  • Yes: 1192 (85.57%)
  • No: 201 (14.43%)

Pay negotiations with Welsh Government

January 2023

We wrote to the Minister for health and social services making it clear that we had lost faith in the DDRB process, in a large part due to the sub-inflationary pay recommendations made by the pay review body. This letter notified her of our decision to withdraw from providing evidence to the DDRB.

February 2023

We joined additional last-minute pay talks alongside other health unions, where the Welsh Government offered to increase the 2022/23 pay uplift from 4.5% to 6% and provide a one-off payment of 1.5%. These talks were to avert further strike action from other health unions. At that point, the BMA was not in a trade dispute with Welsh Government. As part of this, the Welsh Government also committed to the principle of full pay restoration to 2008 levels.

Although this pay award did not go anywhere near restoring consultant pay, we made the decision to vote to accept this offer. We did so because we were nearing the end of the 2022/23 pay year and because the Minister agreed as part of the offer to enter immediately into pay talks for 2023/24. We did not feel this would stymie our campaign for consultant pay restoration going forward and felt members could benefit from receiving additional pay in the 2022/23 pay year.

April 2023

We were invited to attend pay talks for the 2023/24 pay year.

May 2023

We made internal preparations to enter pay negotiations with the Welsh Government.

July 2023

Alongside colleagues from the other secondary care branches of practice, we entered pay talks with the Welsh Government. Government officials attended but with no pay envelope in which to negotiate, noting that a cabinet meeting was still required to consider this. We used the opportunity to outline the importance of providing a fair pay offer to doctors and of restoring pay to 2008/09 levels.

August 2023

Pay talks resumed. The Welsh Government provided an opening and final offer of 5% for consultants. This is the worst pay offer for consultants in the UK and is below even the DDRB recommendation for 2023/24. Our negotiation team withdrew from talks on the basis that no credible pay offer was on the table.

The BMA’s Welsh consultants committee (WCC) held an extraordinary meeting to consider the pay offer and unanimously decided to ballot members on taking industrial action. 

BMA’s UK Council considered and approved the WCC application to ballot for industrial action.

September 2023

We wrote to the Welsh Government confirming BMA UK Council approval for balloting and making clear our willingness to come back to the negotiation table if a credible pay offer was made.

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