The government has offered consultants a 4.95 per cent investment in pay for this financial year, in addition to the 6 per cent pay uplift already awarded, after a month of negotiations.
The association will now put the offer to its membership. If the offer is accepted the changes will be applicable from January 2024 but paid retrospectively in April 2024. BMA members will be given the opportunity to vote upon these proposals in a referendum, which is expected to open in December and close in January next year.
The BMA has agreed it would then call an end to strike action. However, a re-ballot on industrial action remains open and if passed, would enable consultants to call further strikes in 2024 if the offer is rejected.
The SoR congratulated BMA consultants on securing significant improvements following their industrial action. The last action was coordinated with the SoR’s own strike action on 3 October, which coincided with the Conservative Party conference in Manchester. The Society's president elect Tom Welton and colleagues joined the protest outside the event (pictured).
The offer makes changes to consultant pay scale structure, meaning members will reach the top of the pay scale five years sooner than under the current schemes. Starting salaries and top of the pay scale salaries will both increase.
The reforms will particularly benefit women who take time out for caring responsibilities, and are disadvantaged under the current system. Rights for enhanced shared parental leave will be extended, making “considerable progress” at tackling the gender pay gap in medicine.
The SoR has now written to the new health secretary Victoria Atkins, asking for an urgent response to requests for similar talks.
The SoR said: “If the Minister is willing to show the same level of engagement with us as she has shown with the BMA, that progress is possible, further action will be avoided. However, our members have noted the offer to the BMA and she now stands on notice - a failure to engage constructively with us, and facilitate the same level of progress for our members in the 2024-25 pay round will prompt further calls for industrial action.
“No professionals want to strike but if this is the only way to force this Government to engage constructively then further industrial action will be likely in 2024.”
The SoR is the only Agenda for Change (AfC) union that still has a mandate for strike action, And the Society’s concerns mirror those that have been addressed in the BMA pay offer, specifically:
The government’s previous response to the SoR said they would be unable and unwilling to discuss an improved 2023-24 pay offer for members as they were now actively engaging with the AfC unions as part of the 2024-25 pay round.
However, the BMA offer shows that the government is capable of finding additional resources now to begin to address the kind of structural faults in the AfC system. Having done so for consultants, the SoR and other AfC unions will now be expecting the same for their members.
Image: Breige Cobane