NHS strikes: Consultants write to Health Secretary saying health service "cannot sustain" current pay levels

Consultants taking industrial action have warned the Health Secretary that real pay decreases in the NHS are unsustainable.

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NHS consultants started taking strike action today (20 July) after a five-day strike from junior doctors ended earlier this week.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed a "final pay offer" of a six per cent increase in pay for NHS workers, after eight months of continued strike action. But medical professionals say this not only doesn't keep pace with inflation, but is also a 40 per cent decrease in pay compared with 2008.

A group of consultants from University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust has now written to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, urging him to

The open letter said: "Over the last 15 years we have suffered from pay reviews which provided no change or failed to match inflation. The imposition of a 6 per cent uplift means our pay will continue to be eroded in real terms by over 40 per cent at the end of this year compared to 2008.

"While none of us began a career in medicine for the financial rewards, we did believe that with many years of hard work, dedication and successful career progression, we could reach a position of value, respect and appropriate remuneration comparable to that of other professions such as barristers, solicitors and dentists.

"The figures that the government has released to the press to describe consultant salaries are misleading - these numbers include overtime work paid to a small number of exhausted colleagues covering unfilled posts. The pensions adjustments made in the last budget by the Chancellor are welcome but to describe them as a pay rise is unfair.

"Whilst recognising the unaffordability of an immediate 40 per cent pay restoration, we, and our profession as a whole, simply cannot sustain this erosion of our income, especially while other industries fare far better. We merely ask for a commitment to pay restoration, over a meaningful time, to help recruit, train and retain high quality medical and surgical specialists."

The letter added that many consultants have already "voted with their feet" by opting for an early retirement, or moving abroad - both of which have added to the growing NHS waiting lists.

In total, 167 consultants signed the open letter to the Health Secretary.

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