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Trusts delay pay cut after doctors’ protest

Published on: 5 Apr 2024

A hospital group has agreed to delay cutting some locum rates for junior doctors by nearly a third after doctors cancelled shifts in protest this week.

Leaders at the University Hospitals of Northamptonshire Group agreed to delay the introduction of a new “rate card” for 2024-25 until August for some staff groups, following a meeting with the British Medical Association and junior doctors on Wednesday.

The medics affected are now returning to shifts. 

The rates due to come into effect this month at Kettering General Hospital Foundation Trust and Northampton General Hospital Trust would have paid £33 or £32 per hour for FY2/CT1/CT2 shifts. This is well below the BMA’s nationally requested rates, and the BMA says some of these shifts would have paid £45 in 2023-24. 

Around 100 doctors at Kettering cancelled shifts on or after Tuesday when the new rates came in, the BMA said, although KGH said only 11 shifts were affected on Tuesday itself.

The old rates will continue to apply until 7 August, the day of junior doctors’ rotation, pending further discussions. The trusts will also hold a “lessons learned exercise” with the BMA and doctors’ reps, the union said. 

BMA national proposals say FY2 doctors should be paid £62 per hour, rising to £72 overnight and at weekends, while CT1 and CT2 shifts should be paid £82 and £93 for unsociable hours. However, NHS England’s latest “agency price card” rates suggest much lower figures – for example, basic hourly pay of £17.30 for FY2 core hours, and £20.90 for unsocial hours. 

The UHN group was seeking to move its rates in line with the University Hospitals of Leicester Trust after the three were brought under shared leadership in the autumn.

KGH chief executive Deborah Needham said the trust had been asked by medics and the local medical committees to “standardise rates” across the three, to “stabilise” the workforce and “reduce our reliance on temporary staff”. 

She continued: “A small number of concerns were raised about rates of pay for three specific roles. We met with consultants, junior doctors and the BMA this week and we have agreed to pause implementation of the new rates for the small number of roles until August 2024.

“We will use the extended implementation of rates to agree how the workforce in these areas will be stabilised.” 

BMA East Midlands regional council chair Becky Acres said the delay was “a great win for doctors in Kettering”, adding the “proposed rate cuts were imposed at short notice and it’s right that they’re put on hold so they can be appropriately negotiated”. 

Many doctors only learned about the new rate card over the weekend, although board papers show it has been planned for several months.