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Government proposes pay reform deal to consultants to halt strikes

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The BMA and HCSA will put this offer to their members for a vote in the coming weeks

After a month of intense talks, the British government and unions representing consultant doctors in England have reached an agreement, potentially ending six months of disruptive strike action.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has put forward an offer to reform the pay structure for senior doctors from January 2024, reducing the number of pay points and the time it takes to reach the top.

As part of this offer, consultants will also be entitled to enhanced shared parental leave, bringing them in line with other NHS staff.

New arrangements will ensure a clearer link between pay progression and evidence of skills, competencies and experience, the DHSC said.

The British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) agreed to put the offer to their members for a vote in the coming weeks, with no further strike action to be called during that time.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commented: “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.

“This is a fair deal for consultants who will benefit from major reform to their contract, it is fair for taxpayers because it will not risk our ongoing work to tackle inflation, and most importantly it is a good deal for patients to see the end of consultant industrial action.”

After months of strike action, the government began talks with the BMA and HCSA last month to find a fair and reasonable way forward.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said that the offer is “fair and reasonable” which, if accepted, will modernise pay structures, address gender pay issues in the NHS, as well as enhance consultants’ parental leave options.

“Putting an end to this strike action will support our efforts to bring down waiting lists and offer patients the highest quality care,” she added.

The offered reform package is in addition to the significant reforms to pension taxation, and it will not affect the 6 per cent pay increase awarded to consultants this financial year.

The medical trade unions have also agreed to end Local Clinical Excellence Awards (LCEAs), an employer-level bonus scheme which has been seen to contribute to pay inequalities.

Going forward, the government and unions will work together to review the operation of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB), and recommended changes will be implemented for the 2025 to 2026 pay year.

 

 

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