Government SAS doctors’ offer in England - your questions answered

Answers to members’ questions about the new offer that the Government has put to SAS doctors in England. 

Location: England
Audience: SAS doctors
Updated: Friday 31 May 2024
Wallet and notes illustration

The offer

How is this offer different to the one SAS doctors voted to reject in February? 

The key difference is that the previous offer only improved pay for SAS doctors on 2021 terms and conditions. The new offer includes the pay scale realignment for those doctors, but also a consolidated pay uplift for SAS doctors on closed, pre-2021 terms and conditions. Funding from the catalyst pot was recycled, and on top of this recycled £5m, we negotiated significantly more new investment into the SAS workforce (see below FAQ).

I don’t think the offer goes far enough. Why was it presented to me? 

Having rejected the previous offer, BMA representatives pushed Government for a revised offer that would benefit all SAS doctors. We received clear feedback, through a survey of SAS members and through regional and national SAS committee representatives, that establishing an offer that would improve pay for all SAS doctors on all contracts was a top priority for future negotiations.

Any pay uplift for doctors on closed contracts was previously a red line in the Government’s negotiating position. The SAS committee negotiating team pushed hard to change this and, based on member feedback, prioritised a pay uplift for all SAS doctors over non-pay measures such as the specialist catalyst pot in the previous offer. We also secured a significant increase in new investment into the SAS workforce nearly three times the value of the catalyst pot.

After further negotiation, this revised offer was presented to the BMA SAS committee, who decided to present this to the membership. Throughout the campaign we have been clear in our position that any offer the committee felt was worthy of consideration would be put to members for them to have their say before deciding next steps.

We believe that this is the best offer we can achieve at this current time, and given the imminent general election, it will not be possible to gain more investment through further negotiations with the current Government.

Why did the BMA SAS Committee recommend the offer is accepted? 

The negotiating team was clear that this offer is the best that can be achieved through negotiation with the current Government. The alternative was to request permission from BMA Council to ballot SAS members for industrial action again, then take strike action if a mandate is secured. There are no guarantees this would result in an improved offer or how long it would take, especially given that the upcoming general election means that it is possible we would need to seek re-open negotiations with a new Government.

If we accept this offer now, we essentially 'bank' the pay rise proposed in the offer, and this higher pay will create the baseline from which the DDRB will make its recommendation for 2024/25.

We are conscious that this offer does not fully address long-standing pay erosion, but we have never claimed that pay restoration would happen in one go. What this offer does do, is improve basic pay, and this improvement can be further built upon. In future years, we will be seeking more than inflationary pay increases from the DDRB. If their recommendations are not acceptable, we will re-open negotiations to make sure all SAS doctors reach pay restoration.

What happened to the specialist catalyst pot in the previous offer?  

Feedback from members through both our rejected offer survey and recent webinars raised concerns that the pot wouldn’t be used as intended and/or that it didn’t do enough to address career progression concerns. We also recognised that rejection of the previous offer demonstrated that the catalyst pot wasn’t enough for members to approve a deal – there needed to be further improvement on the pay offer.  

It became evident that a systemic solution on career progression required further talks that would go beyond the timeframe of these negotiations if we were to reach a deal that would lift basic pay ahead of the 2024/25 pay review uplift. Meanwhile, the biggest priority in the immediate term was to make as much progress on pay as possible, especially for those excluded by the previous offer. 

Recycling £5m of the catalyst pot unlocked significantly more new investment for pay, and the funding for this pot was therefore recycled into the pay offer. 

If the offer is accepted the BMA will continue to push for career development for SAS doctors, both utilising the measures here and lobbying for other processes to help our membership advance, and for SAS doctor career development more broadly as a priority outside of this pay dispute.  

The pay proposals

When would I see an increase in my pay? 

We are confirming when exactly SAS doctors would see the increase to their pay, but it has been agreed that the uplifts will be backdated to April 2024.  

Will I need to move contracts to access a pay uplift? 

No. While some SAS doctors may wish to move to 2021 terms and conditions, this will be their choice. Those on closed contracts can choose to stay put, and will still receive a consolidated £1400 uplift. 

Find out more about changing from a 2008 to 2021 contract.

I am an LED, how would my pay be affected? 

LEDs on contracts that mirror the 2021 specialty doctor/specialist doctor terms and conditions should see their pay increase in line with the pay scale realignment set out in the offer. LEDs on contracts that mirror 2008 specialist/associate specialist terms and conditions should also see their pay increase in line with the consolidated uplift for those pay scales.  

If the offer is accepted and your pay does not change as expected please get in touch with your local LNC rep or use our contact form to get in touch with our employment advisers, who can advise further action.   

How does this offer relate to DDRB-recommended pay uplifts last year and this year? Does this replace a 2024/25 uplift?  

No. The pay offer is on top of the pay lift granted for 2023/24. The current pay scales include the value of the previous uplift, so the   increase of the new offer is based on entirely new investment into the SAS pay bill.   

The pay scale realignment in the offer is entirely separate from future rounds of the pay review process. If accepted, the pay uplifts in the offer would represent the new baseline and a DDRB recommendation for a 2024/25 uplift will be on top of the new pay scales created by the deal.   

What about DDRB reform? 

The Government’s recent deal with consultants in England secured reforms to the DDRB process, which will benefit all doctors under the pay review process – including SAS doctors. These include changes to the appointments to the DDRB, DDRB remit letters, the DDRB timetable and terms of reference. When these come into effect for 2025/26 we hope that it will translate to an improvement on DDRB outcomes for our members. 

What is the difference between consolidated pay and non-consolidated pay? 

Consolidated pay means that the uplift is incorporated into your annual pay both this year and for all future years. All consolidated pay is pensionable.  

Non-consolidated pay means that it is not incorporated into your annual salary and is a one-off payment for this year only. Non-consolidated pay is not pensionable. 

Both the pay scale realignment for the 2021 pay scales and the £1400 uplift for the pre-2021 pay scales in the offer are consolidated, meaning that they would become a permanent part of basic annual pay for SAS doctors. There is no non-consolidated element to the pay uplifts in the offer.  

This also means that the baseline of basic pay for all SAS doctors would be raised and whatever percentage increase is recommended by the DDRB for 2024/25 will be on top of the uplifts in the offer.  

The referendum

When was the referendum? 

The referendum was open from Friday 31 May until the end of Friday 14 June. 

Thank you to all our members who voted.

The results are being verified and will be  communicated to members shortly.

How does the upcoming election impact our position?

The offer was made before the election was announced and before the pre-election period where no new policy can be announced. This means if the offer is accepted, it will be implemented, no matter the result of the election.

If rejected, the Government will be unable to enter negotiations before the election, and we therefore cannot expect any further movement from the Government’s side ahead of the election.

If the Government changes as a result of this election, we would try to re-engage in talks, which may take some time considering the summer recess and other policy priorities the incoming Government would need to consider.

We are uncertain what the result of the election will be. We believe, however, the recent announcement significantly strengthens the case for ‘banking’ this current offer while we have it, seeing the results of this election, and then evaluating the political landscape before devising further strategy on pay.

How does the junior doctors strike impact SAS doctors?

The BMA’s junior doctors committee has announced that they will be holding a five day strike from 27 June to 2 July. While we support their decision to take industrial action, it has no bearing on SAS doctors’ dispute, which is in a very different position. Junior doctors are taking this strike action because the Government has not yet produced a credible offer to end their dispute. In contrast, the SAS committee has received an improved offer to put to members in a referendum.  

We continue to believe it is prudent to “bank” this improved offer during a time of political uncertainty. We will then be able to reassess our position after the general election result and DDRB recommendations for the 2024/25 uplift.   

The outcome

What happens if the offer is accepted? 

If the offer is accepted, it becomes a deal. The measures proposed in it will be implemented. The pay increases will come into effect, and these new pay scales will be the baseline from which the DDRB makes its recommendation for a pay uplift for 2024/25. Work will begin on the other proposals in the offer around career progression and LEDs.

What happens if the offer is rejected? 

If the offer is rejected, the pay uplifts and other measures in it will not be implemented. The pay scales will not change from the current ones.  

Our next steps at this stage would be challenging. Reaching the offer took a significant amount of negotiating capital, and the Government would be under no obligation to negotiate further. The SAS committee would need to request BMA Council’s agreement to re-ballot the membership for industrial action to get a new mandate to strike. Members would need to be prepared to engage in this ballot, and also to take industrial action – which, given the current political situation, would have no guarantee of producing a better offer. Please bear this in mind if you vote to reject the offer. 

Would accepting the offer mean we can’t pursue industrial action again? 

No. While accepting this offer will mean a resolution to this particular pay dispute, we reserve the right to re-ballot the membership if a significant change of circumstances results in a new, separate dispute arising.  

Would accepting the offer mean I can’t negotiate my rates for extra-contractual work? 

No. Even if the BMA rate card for SAS extra-contractual work in England is withdrawn, doctors can continue to quote whatever rates they wish for this type of work.