The CEO of the Society of Radiographers has written to the health secretary after BMA consultants were presented with an improved deal by the government.
Last week, the British Medical Association (BMA) concluded its pay dispute negotiations with the Department of Health and Social Care after the government presented an improved deal for consultants – leading the SoR to question why no such meeting has been arranged for radiographers.
The Society of Radiographers CEO, Richard Evans, has today (4 December) written to Victoria Atkins MP, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to request an update on the status of negotiation with the SoR.
SoR remains in formal dispute with the department over the 2023-34 Agenda for Change (AfC) pay award and its failure to engage with the Society to address the workforce crisis in radiography.
In his letter to the health secretary, Mr Evans said: “The improved offer to the BMA signals clearly that your government and the department are willing to make significant interventions to address such structural weaknesses ahead of implementing a new pay award.
“We want to talk to you to ensure you understand our concerns about the impact of the radiography workforce crisis and our ideas to help address it. Unless actions are taken to improve retention amongst the current workforce and increase recruitment by making the professions more competitive you cannot meet any of your wider aspirations for the NHS.”
See below for the full letter.
Within the NHS, nine out of 10 patients are supported by a radiography professional, either through diagnostic services like X-rays, MRI and CT scans, or through therapeutic services - planning and delivering radiotherapy to cancer patients.
But the SoR has warned “too few are being recruited or retained.” As a result, a million patients are currently waiting to be seen by a radiographer, delaying vital diagnosis and treatment for months, while the average vacancy rate across the UK for radiographers is now at 12.7 per cent.
Radiographers have already taken three days of strike action across 30 NHS Trusts in England, and it continues to hold a live strike mandate.
The SoR previously reached out to Ms Atkins on on 14 November 2023 and 17 November 2023 to arrange meetings and discuss the issues in its proposed agenda.
In light of the BMA’s improved offer, the SoR has questioned the department’s stance that these issues could not be progressed outside of the 2024-25 pay round and should be discussed only as part of collective negotiations with the AfC trade unions.
The BMA received improved starting pay for new consultants and higher pay as consultants progress their expertise – both issues which mirror the SoR’s concerns around AfC’s structural issues, including:
The SoR is now awaiting Ms. Atkins’ response.
4 December 2023
Re: Outcome of the BMA consultant’s pay dispute negotiations
Dear Secretary of State,
As you must no doubt be aware, the Society of Radiographers remains in formal dispute with your department over the 2023-24 Agenda for Change (AfC) pay award and the failure to engage constructively to address the workforce crisis gripping all areas of radiography.
We have so far taken 3 days strike action across 30 NHS Trusts in England and continue to hold a live strike mandate.
We do not want to take further strike action but are hugely disappointed that you and your officials have not responded to our previous correspondence on 14th November 2023 and 17th November 2023 and arranged meetings to discuss the issues set out in our proposed agenda.
I would ask you to urgently prioritise meeting with us as proposed by Steve Barclay and Will Quince before your appointment.
In the meantime, we have noted with great interest the improved offer to the British Medical
Association (BMA) consultants, who we co-ordinated our last days strike action with on the 3rd October 2023.
In particular we note the willingness of yourself and the department to seek to address important structural weaknesses in the BMA’s pay system ahead of the 2024-25 pay remit and offer. We particularly noted:
• Improved starting pay for new consultants, seeing a significant increase that makes these
roles more competitive and brings starting pay closer to other consultant’s pay; and
• Higher pay as consultants progress their expertise so that promotion / progression brings
appropriate recognition and reward.
These are mirrored in our concerns around the existing AfC structures – most specifically:
• The uncompetitive starting rates for new professionals at Band 5
• Failure to ensure promotion pays
• A need to address barriers to career progression, including inadequate staffing levels
preventing access to paid time off for training and professional development.
Previously, we have been told that these issues could not be progressed outside of the
2024-25 pay round and should be discussed only as part of collective negotiations with the Agenda for Change trade unions. This is to some extent understandable but we also note your officials saying the 2024-25 pay round is now effectively underway. The improved offer to the BMA signals clearly that your Government and the department are willing to make significant interventions to address such structural weaknesses ahead of implementing a new pay award.
We want to talk to you to ensure you understand our concerns about the impact of the radiography workforce crisis and our ideas to help address it. Unless actions are taken to improve retention amongst the current workforce and increase recruitment by making the professions more competitive you cannot meet any of your wider aspirations for the NHS.
The conversation should now include signalling why and how you can use the 2024-25 pay remit and negotiations to address these long standing AfC pay structure concerns and the other pay and reward challenges at the heart of our dispute – such as pay restoration and funding for adequate staffing in the Community Diagnostic Centre (CDC) programme and elsewhere in the NHS.
Following your offer to the BMA we are hopeful that progress will be possible and we can bring an end to our dispute without the need for further industrial action. Meeting and positively engaging with us can set a positive tone for the forthcoming collective negotiations. A continued unwillingness to progress talks towards ending our dispute will signal the opposite. Our members have also noted the offer to the BMA and will be looking for a positive reaction to this invitation.
We look forward to a positive response.
Richard Evans, Chief Executive Officer
(Image: Breige Cobane)