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NHS consultants are set to go back on strike after rejecting a pay offer from the government
25 January 2024, 17:51
NHS strikes are set to continue as consultants in England have voted narrowly against an offer aimed at resolving a long pay dispute with the Government.
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The British Medical Association (BMA) said that its members rejected the offer by 51.1 per cent.
It comes after the NHS in England has been hit by waves of strikes with more than 1.3 million appointments, procedures and operations forced to be rescheduled, following walkouts by various staff groups, including doctors, nurses, paramedics and physiotherapists.
BMA consultants committee chairman Vishal Sharma said: "The vote has shown that consultants do not feel the current offer goes far enough to end the current dispute and offer a long-term solution to the recruitment and retention crisis for senior doctors.
"However, with the result so close, the consultants committee is giving the government a chance to improve the offer.
"In the coming days we will be further engaging with consultants, and seeking talks with government to explore whether the concerns expressed by our members during the referendum process can be addressed."
During the current dispute, consultants have staged four rounds of strike action, including an unprecedented joint walkout with junior colleagues.
Junior doctors in England are currently being balloted to see if they want to continue strike action.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said its members will be reballoted on extending industrial action for another six months.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “This is a very narrow outcome and health leaders will hope that it will be used as a basis for reopening negotiations with consultants to address their concerns rather than as a stepping stone to call for more damaging industrial action.
“Strikes have already led to over 1.3 million cancelled procedures and appointments and cost the NHS in excess of £1 billion.
“The NHS relies on its consultant workforce immensely and these professionals have helped to keep the most life-critical services afloat including over the ongoing winter period and the recent junior doctors walkouts.
“Health leaders say, and the latest data shows, that the NHS is still not out of the woods yet with its winter pressures and so, the last thing it needs is further instability as it grapples these challenges.”