BMA to Test Opinion of Consultants on Possible Industrial Action Over Pay

Peter Russell

July 26, 2021

Hospital consultants in England will be asked whether they are prepared to accept an offer of a 3% pay rise or back industrial action in support of a higher award.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said senior doctors would be asked for their views on the uplift and the impact the uplift has had on their morale.

Last week the Government announced the 3% rise in line with other NHS staff, having previously argued for a 1% increase.

However, the BMA has been lobbying for a pay award of at least 5%.

Pay Award 'Below Inflation'

It said inflation measured by the retail price index now stood at 3.9%, while the consumer price index was predicted to reach almost 4% later this year.

The Government's updated offer represented a 'real terms' pay cut, it argued.

Consultants had "given their all" during the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA's consultants committee, and "pressure will only intensify as we begin to tackle the backlog of delayed treatment caused by the pandemic".

The BMA also described the decision not to apply the 3% rise to clinical excellence awards as "incomprehensible", particularly given the "extraordinary efforts of consultants over the last 16 months". It said it was also concerned by suggestions that the pay rise could be funded from the NHS budget and through a possible increase in National Insurance contributions.

"Not only does this result in staff part funding their own pay uplift, but any uplift should be fully funded by Government and should not lead to cuts elsewhere across the health and social care service," said Dr Sharma.

The BMA said findings from the survey – that will run until August 16 – would be reviewed to test whether there was a need for a formal ballot on possible industrial action.

A similar survey will also be launched soon to test opinion among junior doctors.

The Royal College of Nursing has also said it would consult members on whether they were prepared to take industrial action in support of a claim for a 12.5% pay increase.

Independent Review Body

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "NHS staff – from doctors and nurses to paramedics and porters – are rightly receiving a 3% pay rise this year in recognition of their extraordinary efforts throughout this global pandemic.

"This follows the recommendations of the independent NHS pay review body and the review body on doctors’ and dentists' remuneration, who considered a wide range of evidence from organisations across government, the NHS, and trade unions, in making the decision."

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