Union proposes 12% pay raise as solution to end NHS consultants’ strikes
Prime minister Rishi Sunak had previously announced a 6% pay increase for doctors, described as a “final offer”
Junior doctors hold placards at a picket line outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London on July 13, 2023 in the biggest walkout in the history of the UK’s state-funded National Health Service. The unprecedented five-day stoppage over pay and staff retention is the latest in eight months of industrial action across the NHS, which is already reeling from a vast pandemic backlog. (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS / AFP) (Photo by HENRY NICHOLLS/AFP via Getty Images)
The British Medical Association (BMA) consultants committee chairman, Dr Vishal Sharma, has suggested that a pay rise of approximately 12% for NHS consultants could potentially end the ongoing strikes.
Dr Sharma said that any offer above inflation would be sufficient to present to BMA members.
The comments were made in anticipation of a two-day strike by senior doctors across England, beginning today (20). This strike is expected to exacerbate the existing challenges hospitals are confronting due to the ongoing five-day junior doctors’ strike, scheduled to conclude on Tuesday.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak had previously announced a 6% pay increase for doctors, described as a “final offer,” which could result in an up to £7,000 raise for some consultants, The Telegraph reported.
The BMA responded with anger and dissatisfaction and announced a further 48-hour walkout in August due to the “derisory” pay offer.
Dr Sharma compared the potential offer to the 12.4% increase already accepted by junior doctors in Scotland, suggesting that a similar proposal might be presented for a vote among English consultants.
While consultants in England have not publicly specified their desired figure, they are demanding a “credible offer” and reforms to the independent pay review body.
The consultants argue that their pay has declined by 35 per cent in real terms since 2008.
Dr Sharma said, “Consultants’ pay has been cut more than any other group in the public sector. That’s going over the last 15 years.
“Going into this cost of living crisis we were already very significantly down. We were down far more than other groups.”
The strikes by consultants have caused significant disruption, as no one else can replace their roles.
Hospital leaders warn that these strikes are impeding efforts to reduce the backlog of patients resulting from the Covid pandemic.
The NHS currently has 7.47 million patients waiting for treatment in England.
Despite the ongoing industrial action, the BMA has not ruled out further strikes if their terms are not met, potentially leading to additional cancellations of appointments and operations.
Over 650,000 appointments and operations have already been cancelled due to NHS strikes.