Department of Health and Social Care
Printable version

Government puts offer to consultants to pave way to end strikes

The offer will invest in modernising the consultants’ pay structure – reducing the number of pay points and the time it takes to reach the top.

  • The government has put forward an offer that will modernise the consultant contract and reform consultants’ pay structure
  • The British Medical Association and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association will put the deal to their memberships this week
  • Agreement by union members would see the end of consultant strike action – benefiting patients and helping to cut waiting lists

The government and unions representing consultant doctors in England have reached an agreement to put an offer to union members following constructive negotiations. 

Talks were opened with the British Medical Association (BMA) and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) last month to find a fair and reasonable way forward.  

All parties strived to find a fair deal for NHS consultants but also one that acknowledges the wider economic pressures facing the UK and the need to continue to bring down inflation.    

The government was clear that the headline pay uplift for 2023-24 was settled through the pay review body process. This offer builds on that and focuses on measures that will address consultant concerns while introducing contractual reforms.  The core contract for consultants has not been updated for 20 years and this offer will modernise it, including through offering enhanced shared parental leave, in line with other NHS staff.

The offer will invest in modernising the consultants’ pay structure – reducing the number of pay points and the time it takes to reach the top, taking effect from January 2024.  

New pay progression arrangements will be introduced to ensure there is a clearer link between pay progression and evidence of skills, competencies and experience.    

The BMA and the HCSA will put this offer to their members for a vote in the coming weeks.  No further strike action will be called while members are being consulted.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday said:

Ending damaging strike action in the NHS is vitally important if we want to continue making progress towards cutting waiting lists while making sure patients get the care they deserve.

This is a fair deal for consultants who will benefit from major reform to their contract, it is fair for taxpayers because it will not risk our ongoing work to tackle inflation, and most importantly it is a good deal for patients to see the end of consultant industrial action.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins yesterday said:

I hugely value the work of NHS consultants and am pleased that we have been able to make this fair and reasonable offer after weeks of constructive negotiations.

If accepted, it will modernise pay structures, directly addressing gender pay issues in the NHS. It will also enhance consultants’ parental leave options.

Putting an end to this strike action will support our efforts to bring down waiting lists and offer patients the highest quality care.

The pay scale reforms will also help mitigate the gender pay gap by delivering a key recommendation made by Professor Dame Jane Dacre in her review on the Gender Pay Gap in Medicine. To enable these reforms, unions have agreed to end Local Clinical Excellence Awards (LCEAs) going forward – an employer level bonus scheme – which has been seen to contribute to pay inequalities. 

Alongside this, consultants will also be entitled to enhanced shared parental leave, bringing them in line with other NHS staff.

As part of this offer, the government and unions have agreed to work together to review the operation of the Review Body on Doctors and Dentists Remuneration (DDRB) – the pay review process for doctors. It will examine the appointments of members to the DDRB, the timing of the round, remit letters and terms of reference, and the data provided to the body on which it bases its recommendations.  These changes will be implemented for the 2025/26 pay year.

As part of this provisional deal, the BMA has also agreed to end the use of its rate card – which advises doctors on how much to charge for non-contractual work, including cover during strikes. Until now, the card has increased the cost of finding shift cover during industrial action.

This reform package is separate from the pay setting process. It does not affect the 6% pay award consultants received this financial year and will it not interfere with the process for setting pay next year. This is in addition to the significant reforms to pension taxation, the BMA’s number one ask, in the Spring Budget earlier this year.   

Moving forward, the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan will support the NHS to address existing vacancies and meet the challenges of a growing and aging population by training, recruiting and retaining hundreds of thousands more staff over the next 15 years – backed by more than £2.4 billion in government investment.

The government has listened carefully to the concerns of consultants, their representatives, and employers - particularly around retention, motivation and morale. This offer has been carefully balanced to meet those concerns but also to ensure value for the taxpayer.


Channel website:

Original article link:

Share this article

Latest News from
Department of Health and Social Care