NHS strike breakthrough: Consultants reach pay deal with government that could end strikes

27 November 2023, 12:35 | Updated: 27 November 2023, 12:51

Consultant Doctors Strike in London.
Consultant Doctors Strike in London. Picture: Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Ministers have agreed a deal with unions to end crippling consultant strikes.

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Thousands of consultants staged another walkout over pay in September - and teamed up with junior doctors too.

Around 55,000 consultants will now be balloted on whether to accept the deal, which will see their pay bands restructured.

It will see the number of bands shrink down from 19 down to 14, and will make it easier for them to go up a band.

Consultant Doctors Strike in London
Consultant Doctors Strike in London. Picture: Getty

The contracts haven't been renegotiated since 2003.

There will be extra cash for the deal, which was announced this lunchtime between the Government, the BMA and the HCSA union.

Victoria Atkins, the new Health Secretary, met with the unions in her first week in the job.

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It has led to hopes that the ongoing strikes with junior doctors could also be resolved.

"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," Ms Atkins said.

"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."

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The BMA's consultants committee chair, Dr Vishal Sharma, said he is pleased they have an offer than can be put to members but said it was a "huge shame" that the action was needed in the first place

"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," he said.

"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.”

About 150,000 doctors in England were given a pay rise earlier after Steve Barclay, the heath secretary, decided to impose a 6% pay rise for consultants and an average of 8.8% for junior doctors.