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Trust gives in on consultant overtime rates

Published on: 7 Jun 2023

The third biggest trust in the NHS has agreed to increase consultant overtime rates ahead of next week’s junior doctors’ strike, despite a regional attempt to hold the line, citing patient safety and the need to treat cancer patients, HSJ can reveal.

Barts Health Trust is the first provider in London to agree payments matching the British Medical Association’s “ratecard” for consultant cover, after the rest of the capital’s providers agreed not to do so during the previous two junior doctors strikes.

HSJ reported yesterday on a letter signed by more than 800 consultants in London saying they would not agree to cover the junior doctors’ strike unless the BMA rate was met. The letter had been signed by around 150 consultants at Barts, nearly one in six of its consultant workforce, which was among the highest of all the capital’s trusts.

In a statement issued today (Wednesday), the £2bn turnover trust said: “We have agreed an enhanced rate of pay for consultants covering the work of junior doctors during the period of industrial action.

“This will ensure the continued safety of patients in our hospitals and enable us to continue to treat cancer patients and those waiting a long time for routine operations.

While the trust did not admit it was paying the BMA ratecard specifically, the union said the new Barts rate matched what it had been asking for, once the “working time directive supplement”, which consultants will receive, is included.

Barts said its medical director Alistair Chesser had written to all consultants and senior doctors, telling them they would pay an increased rate for cover during the June strike days, and “thanking them for their magnificent response in the previous two rounds of industrial action”.

The East London trust is the third biggest in the English NHS by turnover and the second biggest in London, after Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT, which recently took over large specialist provider the Royal Brompton and Harefield FT.

The consultants’ letter – distributed to trusts across London and to NHS England London – named several trusts outside the capital which, they said, had already agreed to pay the BMA rates in previous junior doctor strikes. Among them were some of England’s biggest providers, including Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust and Manchester University Foundation Trust.

HSJ understands negotiations between consultants and other trusts were ongoing on Wednesday.

If an ongoing ballot of BMA medical consultants is successful, they are planning to strike on 20 and 21 July.