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Pay cut sparks mass cancellation of medical shifts

Published on: 3 Apr 2024

Around 100 doctors have cancelled shifts after trusts cut locum rates by 30 per cent, according to the British Medical Association. 

Leaders at the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire Group are due to meet BMA representatives this week over doctors’ concerns about proposed locum rates for 2024-25.

The new “rate card” issued for Northampton General Hospital Trust and Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust offers F1 doctors an hourly rate of £25, rising to £32 for unsociable hours, and consultants £125 and £187.50 for unsociable hours. This is well below BMA-proposed rates and the union said it represented a cut on 2023-24.

BMA national proposals said consultants should be paid £269 per hour for non-contractual overnight shifts and £161 for day shifts, and F1 doctors £62 per hour for day shifts and £72 at weekends or overnight.

The trusts told HSJ the cancellations affected Kettering Hospital, but not Northampton. They said some staff groups were being paid more under the new arrangements, but have not said which.

The UHN group is changing its locum rates to match the University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, after the three were brought under shared leadership in the autumn. It comes amid huge financial pressures in many trusts and systems, and a national drive to reduce temporary staffing costs.

Many doctors only learned about the new rate card over the weekend, although board papers show it has been planned for several months. Any shifts booked before 1 April will be paid the old rate, as part of the transition, but doctors cancelled shifts on Tuesday to protest the move, HSJ understands.

BMA East Midlands tweeted on Monday: “Doctors of Kettering, know your worth. You aren’t worth [one-third] less than a week ago. 100 doctors have taken the personal decision to cancel their shifts tomorrow in the face of these cuts, we stand with you alongside over 60 consultants at KGH.”

One doctor at the group called the rate card a “truly shocking decision from the executive team”.

KGH, NGH and the BMA have been approached for comment.