NHS strikes: government reaches deal with consultants on pay which could see end of industrial action
NHS consultants' strikes could be drawn to a close after it was announced that the government and medical unions had reached a deal on pay.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has said that it has reached an agreement with consultants from the British Medical Association (BMA) and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA). It comes after the government and the unions remained locked in talks for several weeks.
The offer will now be put to union members, who will vote on whether to accept it. If the members choose to accept it, the threat of further strikes will end.
According to the BMA, the offer constiutes a 4.95% "investment in pay". This is on top of the 6% pay rise already offered earlier this year. Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said: “We are pleased that after a month of intense talks and more than six months of strike action we never wanted to take, we have now got an offer we can put to members. It is a huge shame that it has needed consultants to take industrial action to get the Government to this point when we called for talks many months ago.
He added: “The 4.95% investment and much-needed changes to the pay scale system comes after we successfully persuaded the Government to reform the punitive pension taxation laws earlier this year, and we also now have commitments to reforming the pay review process, which has been a key ask from the profession throughout our dispute. Only by restoring the independence of this process can we hope to restore consultant pay over the coming years. How each consultant will benefit will depend on their individual circumstances, and we will be providing them with as much detail as we can, so they are able to look carefully through the details to help them decide whether to accept the offer.”
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. 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.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins added: “I hugely value the work of NHS consultants and am pleased that we have been able to make this fair and reasonable offer after weeks of constructive negotiations. If accepted, it will modernise pay structures, directly addressing gender pay issues in the NHS. It will also 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.”