Government SAS doctor offer in England - your questions answered

Answers to member’s questions and some misconceptions about the deal that the Government has put to SAS doctors in England.

Location: England
Audience: SAS doctors
Updated: Friday 16 February 2024
Wallet and notes illustration

When is the referendum?

The referendum opened on Monday 29 January and closes at 5pm on Wednesday 28 February.

This is an online referendum open to eligible BMA SAS members in England. 

Does the pay uplift previously granted in July 2023 impact this offer?

No. The offer for pay scale realignment is on top of the pay lift granted earlier this year. The current pay scales includes the value the previous 2023 uplift, so the percentage increase of the new offer is based on entirely new investment into the SAS pay bill.  

Will this deal impact future pay uplifts recommended by DDRB?

No. The pay scale realignment above will be considered entirely separate from future rounds of the pay review process. If the offer is accepted, the Government will make clear in its evidence to the DDRB for 2024-25 that there should be a headline pay award for all SAS doctors. The Government will not suggest that their recommendations should be impacted by this negotiated settlement on pay scale realignment. 

I am a SAS doctor on a 2021 contract

When will I see an increase in my pay?

We are awaiting confirmation but we expect that the revised pay scales will come into effect in April 2024, with pay backdated to January 2024.  

I am a specialty doctor on a closed contract (e.g. the 2008 specialty doctor contract)

What will happen to my pay?

The offer from DHSC will not change the pay scales of closed contracts.

Closed contracts are contracts new entrants cannot join (i.e. all national SAS contracts except the 2021 specialty doctor and 2021 specialist doctor contracts). While they may receive uplifts through the pay review process, their terms and conditions are generally left untouched.

Following the statement from the Prime Minister that there will be no further headline pay increases for this year, the Government was determined not to award this type of pay uplift over the course of these negotiations. Our method of increasing pay was to realign the pay scales, though Government was only willing to do this with open contracts. As such, only the 2021 contracts were in the scope of these negotiations. The negotiating team pushed very hard on this matter and tried to mitigate this by maximising the incentives for those on the closed contracts to move to the open 2021 contracts.

The option for doctors on the closed contracts to move to the 2021 contracts is open indefinitely, so even if it is not beneficial for a specialty doctor on the 2008 contract to move this year, they can do so in the following years and therefore benefit from the pay increase at that stage.

Read more about moving from the 2008 to the 2021 England SAS contracts and what this involves.

We also hope that a number of individuals at (or near) the top of the 2008 specialty doctor pay scale will become specialist doctors, as a result of the specialist catalyst pot.

Would it benefit me to move from a 2008 specialty doctor contract to a 2021 specialty doctor contract?

The BMA sought to make the revised pay scale as attractive as possible for specialty doctors on the 2008 pay scale (see our table comparing basic pay).

Taking into account basic pay on its own, there are (very few) years of experience where a doctor may wish not to move immediately but to wait until it would financially benefit them to do so (e.g. someone with five years of experience may wait until they’ve reached six years of experience, and see a 6.9% basic pay uplift).

However, a doctor should also take into account the extension of plain time in the England 2021 SAS contracts (7am to 9pm on weekdays, rather than 7am to 7pm on the 2008 contracts). This means work performed between 7 and 9pm would be paid at a standard rate, rather than time and a third. This could have a financial impact on someone moving from the closed contract, depending on how often an individual worked between the hours of 7 and 9pm.

There aren't many other downsides to the new contract. It is worth noting that there are changes to the redundancy arrangements in the England 2021 SAS contracts (bringing them in line with the Agenda for Change terms and conditions of service), and no equivalent right to decline elective work in premium time as the one currently in the associate specialist contract (but the latter does not apply to specialty doctors in any case). There are benefits to the contract, including ones specific to pay, such as a flatter pay scale, increased on-call supplements in line with consultants, enhanced pay and provisions for shared parental leave and child bereavement leave. See the terms and conditions for different contracts (including 2021 specialty doctor and specialist contracts).

Doctors considering transferring to the new contract would go through a process, during which their employer must provide a written statement of the job plan and salary package you would receive under the new contract. If the doctor is not happy with this package, they can choose to stay on their current contract.

Find out more about transferring contracts here.

You should consider your individual circumstances before making the move, and speak to the BMA if you have any concerns.

It is important to note that movement to the new contract remains entirely optional.

I am an associate specialist

What will happen to my pay?

While all SAS doctors can move to the new contracts, we are conscious there will not be a financial incentive for those at the top of the associate specialist scale to do so.  

The BMA pushed for an offer that would benefit as many SAS doctors as possible, and unfortunately could not secure sufficient additional investment to raise the top of the specialist pay scale enough to compete with the top basic pay for this closed contract.  

Without the option for a headline pay uplift, the negotiation team focussed on improving the open contracts as much as possible, and in doing so improving pay for future SAS doctors.  

I am an LED

What happens to my pay?

LEDs on contracts that mirror the 2021 specialty doctor/specialist doctor terms and conditions should see their pay increase in line with the above offer. If they do not, they are encouraged to get in touch with the BMA, who can advise further action.  

LEDs on other contracts may not see a change in their pay. We hope, however, that the project described in our summary of the offer will see many of these doctors provided with the opportunity to move onto national contracts in the near future.  

I don’t like/disagree with this offer. Why is it being presented to me?

The SAS committee recognised that this offer could present a material benefit to many SAS doctors in England.

Accordingly, the decision was made to present it to the membership, while acknowledging not everyone in this cohort would share this benefit.

It is important to note, however, than an offer is not a deal.

Only you – our members – can vote to accept this offer, and make it a deal, or reject it.  

The BMA is a democratic organisation, and we believe that the power to decide our next steps regarding this offer lies with our SAS membership in England. If you disagree with the offer, you can vote against it; if you agree, you can vote for it. The final result of the referendum will dictate what happens next.

Does the BMA SAS committee recommend the offer is accepted?

This is not the first offer made to the BMA SAS committee, but the product of months’ worth of negotiations. At this point, the committee agreed it was fair to share details of the offer with the membership. 

The BMA SAS committee is not advising members on how to vote. It is for members to decide whether they believe this is an acceptable deal. 

What happens if the offer is rejected?

A deal is only made if members vote to accept the offer in the referendum.

The BMA may seek to enter re-negotiation at that stage. However, it is possible Government would not re-enter negotiations, and unlikely that any re-negotiations at this stage would result in a better offer being put to members, without some form of escalation. In such a scenario, industrial action may be required in order to bring the Government back to the table or gain the leverage to seek any improvements to the offer.

If the offer is rejected, will the proposed pay reform still come into effect?

No. The Government will not implement the proposals of this offer if it is rejected.

I haven't received my email to vote

If you cannot find or didn’t receive a voting email from Civica then take a look at our support page on how to find it and request a new one.

I'm not a BMA member, can I vote in the referendum?

Only BMA members can vote in the referendum so join us before 23 February so you can have your say.

I want to know more about the offer and referendum

If you have further questions, please email us.