NHS Consultants in England are put to the ballot over the government’s proposed changes to the core pay spine and other benefits in mid-December, which could potentially end the ongoing strikes.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) stated that it had reached an agreement with consultants from the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) followed by weeks of negotiations.
The authority agreed to offer a package to “modernise the consultant contract and reform consultants’ pay structure”.
It includes lifting pay points funded by the government and shortening the years it takes a consultant to progress to the top of the pay scale.
New consultants will receive higher starting pay, which is additional to the 6% increases adjusted earlier this year.
The package further provides consultants with enhanced shared parental leave arrangements that are available for all other NHS staff but denied to consultants at present.
The chair of the BMA consultants committee, Vishal Sharma, stated via Twitter or Xtweets: “Although it doesn’t deliver everything we asked; the consultants committee felt there was enough progress to put it to our members to vote on.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Ending damaging strike action in the NHS is vitally important if we want to continue making progress towards cutting waiting lists while making sure patients get the care they deserve.”
While the package offers several benefits to consultants, the president of HCSA, Dr. Naru Narayanan, said the executive is still concerned about changes to pay progression and other issues.
Therefore, she promised to do their utmost to inform members of the upcoming changes.
Narayanan stated: “While the ballot is open, HCSA has agreed to pause strikes by consultants, but the mandate members have given us for industrial action will remain in place.”
By accepting this offer, consultants will welcome the end of the Local Clinical Excellence Awards (LCEAs) with the funding being consolidated into providing pensions and uplifts as determined by the renewal of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) process.
Consultants will be invited to vote on the offer from mid-December to next January.
If members of the associations agree to the deal, strikes by top hospital doctors would end and the changes above are going to take place next April with pay rises dated back to next January.