NHS strikes: Health Secretary urges BMA to call off consultant strike amid disruption to health service

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has implored NHS consultants to scrap industrial action - mere hours after it began.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Consultant doctors and hospital-based dentists are striking for 48 hours from Thursday until 7am on Saturday.

The result of this strike actions is large-scale disruption across the health service, just two days after junior doctors staged a five-day walkout, the longest in the history of the NHS.

Industrial action from consultants comes after the government announced a "final pay offer" of a six per cent pay increase for NHS nurses, consultants, dentists and more - but the British Medical Association (BMA) has criticised this for still being less than staff were paid in real terms than 15 years ago.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay. (Picture: James Manning/PA Wire)Health Secretary Steve Barclay. (Picture: James Manning/PA Wire)
Health Secretary Steve Barclay. (Picture: James Manning/PA Wire)

Now, Health Secretary Steve Barclay has urged consultants to put an end to their strike action.

He said: "This government has also reformed pension tax rules for consultants, something the BMA campaigned for over many years.

“I am disappointed the BMA is going ahead with this week’s strike, given the average consultant’s NHS earnings are expected to increase to £134,000 a year.

“My door is always open to discuss non-pay issues, but this pay award is final so I urge the BMA to end their strikes immediately.”

In a statement, consultants’ committee chair Dr Vishal Sharma said said Barclay had met doctors just once in seven months and had refused further talks on pay.

Analysis shows consultant pay has fallen way behind the likes of lawyers, architects and financial advisers, the BMA said.

Senior doctors on the picket line outside Wigan Infirmary. (Picture: Contributed)Senior doctors on the picket line outside Wigan Infirmary. (Picture: Contributed)
Senior doctors on the picket line outside Wigan Infirmary. (Picture: Contributed)

Dr Sharma said: “This dispute is not just about one year’s pay settlement, it is about the reality of 14 years of consultant pay falling behind, about our a loss in our pay in real terms of 35 per cent and the broken pay review system that has allowed this to happen.

“Last week, the Prime Minister described the pay review body’s 6 per cent pay uplift as a ‘significant pay award, one of the most significant we’ve had in decades’ and yet our profession languishes so far behind tens of thousands of other workers in terms of our pay and working conditions.

“Consultants will stand on the picket lines today because we are angry and at rock bottom. We never wanted to be forced into taking this huge step.

“The government has had seven months to work with us to take our concerns seriously, to listen to us and to find a way to avoid industrial action. Ministers have done absolutely nothing to stop this action taking place.

“We will be on the picket lines today, knowing our pay has flatlined so disastrously, knowing we are undervalued and overworked but also knowing that we remain willing to talk to Steve Barclay as he has the power to halt the strike action by presenting us with a credible offer that we put to our members.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.