Why the BMA entered into negotiations
Negotiations about the current consultant contract began in September 2013. The BMA entered into these negotiations in order to secure improvements to consultant pay and changes that would benefit their working lives.
What the BMA wanted from the negotiations
- To create a fairer two-point pay scale, which would be more beneficial under a career average (CARE) pension scheme
- Enhance contractual safeguards, such as setting a maximum number of weekends worked in a year, protections for evening workers, and a robust compensatory rest provision
- Retain the current definition of premium time
- Give consultants the choice to remain on the 2003 contract
- Maintain CEAs already granted to consultants and secure award scheme funding.
What the Government wanted from the negotiations
- To remove schedule three, paragraph six of the 2003 contract – the right for consultants to decline weekend elective work
- To remove automatic pay progression
- Increase out of hours (OOH) work to meet seven-day services for no additional money
- Increase plain time (beyond the current 7am – 7pm Monday to Friday)
- Introduce a new performance pay scheme to replace CEAs.
Where did negotiations reach?
During the discussions, we saw a number of improvements to the Government and NHS Employers’ proposals. This included the changes we were seeking to the current pay scale and the development of key safeguards. We were also exploring potential changes to a performance pay scheme that would recognise consultants’ ongoing contributions to the health service.
Why have negotiations stalled?
Following many years of derisory pay awards, the BMA also sought to agree a multiple-year pay deal which would provide additional investment to ensure that consultants were appropriately rewarded. The Government subsequently made an unsatisfactory offer of 2% a year over three years – this would likely still represent a pay cut in real terms.
As a result, the BMA consultants committee have refused to continue to negotiate. While the BMA’s door remains open, there can be no further developments until the Secretary of State makes a commitment to significant additional funding for consultant pay and to take action to redress over a decade of pay erosion.
What happens next?
It is currently unclear what approach the Government plans to take regarding contract reform, but we continue to consult our members to explore options to bring about a better deal for consultants in England.