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New consultants pay deal backed by BMA leaders

Published on: 5 Mar 2024

The government has agreed a new deal on consultants’ pay with leaders of the British Medical Association, which will now be put to members.

The deal, which the BMA will recommend members accept, broadly matches the previous offer that was narrowly rejected by consultants, but includes some further concessions.

Consultants who have served four to seven years will receive an additional 2.85 per cent, on top of the 6 per cent agreed for this cohort in the previous deal.

It means that in the new offer, the vast majority of consultants of less than eight years’ experience will receive a total uplift of around 9 per cent.

Most consultants who have served more than eight years will receive total uplifts of between 12 and 17 per cent, as in the previous offer.

The number of pay points within the structure will also be reduced.

Meanwhile, ministers have conceded they cannot constrain the pay review body by including information about affordability in its remit, and must instead confine this information to within its own evidence.

The deal would also mean the review body has to consider the context of long-term trends in the wider labour force, as well as considering comparator professions including relevant international comparators when making its recommendations. The BMA said: “This is key as the [review body] will no longer be able to ignore what has happened to our pay in past when making recommendations.”

Proposed changes to “supporting professional activities” have also been dropped after the previous offer included the potential reallocation of excess time to clinical activities, such as emergency care.

The BMA’s previous concession to drop its “rate card” for locum work remains.

It comes after consultants narrowly rejected the government’s previous offer in January, with 51 per cent voting “no” on a 65 per cent turnout.

Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA’s consultants committee, said: “In our talks with government we now feel we’ve made enough progress on these issues to go back to the membership and recommend they vote to accept the offer, and in doing so end the current pay dispute and prevent further industrial action.

“Ultimately, each consultant will have their own decision to make, but the BMA’s consultants committee believes the offer marks significant progress in reaching our aims of reforming the pay review process and preventing further pay cuts.”

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Ending strike action in the NHS is vital if we want to cut waiting lists and make sure patients are getting the care they deserve.

“This improved offer demonstrates that we are seeking a fair agreement that is good for consultants, good for patients, and good for the taxpayer.”

BMA members will now be balloted on the offer.