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NHS Consultants: Pay Offer

Volume 741: debated on Tuesday 28 November 2023

After several weeks of constructive negotiation with the British Medical Association and Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association committees, I am pleased to inform the House that, on 27 November, I made a formal offer to both unions, which includes a package of reforms to be applied from January 2024. If accepted by their members, this would end damaging strike action, benefit patients and deliver for consultants by reforming outdated aspects of their contracts.

The Government’s position is that the headline pay uplift for 2023-24 was settled through the pay review body process. This offer builds on that and focuses on reform. All parties strived to find a fair deal for NHS consultants that acknowledges the wider economic pressures facing the UK and the need to continue to bring down inflation. We have heard the concerns consultants have raised about outdated pay scales that have poor equalities outcomes. This offer would invest in modernising the consultant pay scale to reduce the number of pay points and the time it takes to reach the top.

As part of this reform, we would also be introducing more consistent performance gateways so that there is a clearer link between pay progression and evidence of skills, competencies and experience. This would make it faster for consultants to progress and help mitigate the gender pay gap, which was expressly highlighted in the independent review into gender pay gaps in medicine in England. To enable these reforms, unions have agreed to end local clinical excellence awards—an employer-level bonus scheme that has been seen to contribute to pay inequalities.

In addition, the Government will work with the unions to review the operation of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration. This work will extend to looking at the process for the appointment of members to the DDRB, the timing of the round, the data provided to the DDRB, and changes to remit letters and the panel’s terms of reference.

The Government have 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 while also ensuring value for the taxpayer. Together, this represents the biggest transformation in the consultant contract in 20 years. This offer, should it be accepted, will improve the working lives of consultants while ending damaging strike action that has had a detrimental impact on patients and the NHS.

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