SAS doctors accept new pay offer from government after months of negotiations

18 June 2024, 13:07

SAS doctors have accepted a pay offer from the government
SAS doctors have accepted a pay offer from the government. Picture: Alamy

By Will Conroy

Specialist, associate specialist, and specialty (SAS) doctors in England have voted in favour of a new pay deal from the government, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).

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Some 79.3% of members who voted backed the new deal, which follows months of negotiations and a previously rejected offer.

The package could see SAS doctors on open contracts experiencing pay increases of between 9.5% and 19.4% compared with 2022/23.

It also includes a consolidated uplift of £1,400 to each pay point for SAS doctors on closed contracts.

This is in addition to the 6% increase awarded by the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB) in 2023/24.

Despite the dispute being formally resolved, the BMA has pledged to continue to push for improvements in pay and career development for SAS doctors.

The package could see pay increases of between 9.5% and 19.4%
The package could see pay increases of between 9.5% and 19.4%. Picture: Alamy

Dr Ujjwala Mohite, chairwoman of the BMA's SAS UK committee, said the offer is "a step in the right direction in restoring SAS doctors' value in the NHS".

She said: "The next step is seeing what the next DDRB pay round brings, and whether it brings us any closer to giving all SAS doctors, on all contracts, what they deserve.”

She said that not many people have heard of SAS doctors, "but they are absolutely crucial to the running of the health service".

It is understood the BMA represents more than 6,000 SAS doctors in England.

Dr Mohite added: "They are experienced, senior doctors who for a variety of reasons, didn't go down the traditional GP or consultant training pathway. They usually work in hospitals, delivering expert care alongside junior doctors and consultants."

Junior doctors are due to strike from 27 June until 2 July
Junior doctors are due to strike from 27 June until 2 July. Picture: Alamy

She said many SAS doctors have had no choice but to leave the NHS altogether due to "burnout, eroded pay, stunted career progression, and being taken for granted by the government".

She added: "Many SAS doctors also suffer from grade-ism - the idea that, because they don't fit into the traditional pathways, they are somehow not as important.

"That's why, even though today marks significant progress in helping to keep more SAS doctors in the health service, the fight for pay restoration and improving the working lives of SAS doctors is far from over."

Read more: Junior doctors timed strikes days before election to coincide with Labour's NHS announcement, Health Sec suggests

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Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, said trust leaders will be “breathing a sigh of relief” at the news.

“SAS doctors play a vital role in providing safe, high-quality care for patients. They are senior clinicians,” she said.

“Trust leaders will be breathing a sigh of relief at this agreement, but we’re not out of the woods yet as junior doctors are set to strike again next week.

“Trusts will do everything they can to minimise the impact of strikes on patients but more disruption is inevitable.

“The next government and unions must make ending disruptive disputes in the NHS a priority.”

Junior doctors are due to strike from 27 June until 2 July, just two days before the general election is set to take place.

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