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Pay progress for some doctors

BMA members lobbying the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, October 2023. Photo: Workers

NHS hospital consultants have secured an offer from the government in their fight for pay. Consultants’ pay had been cut, in real terms, by 35 per cent since 2008-09. In a ballot, 86 per cent of British Medical Association members voted to strike on a turnout of over 70 per cent. 

The offer will reduce the time it takes for a consultant to progress through the pay scales. It will give an immediate increase to those on the first point and at the top of the scales. New Local Clinical Excellence Awards will be consolidated into basic pay, making them pensionable, and subject to future annual increases as part of a consultant’s total pay. 

The offer will be put to consultant members of the BMA and the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association in ballots with the results expected in January 2024. At the same time, the BMA is re-balloting its consultant members on further action, in case it is necessary.


Both then-health minister, Steve Barclay, and the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak had insisted earlier in the year that the government’s position was final. Barclay was also criticised for misrepresenting consultants’ pension arrangements, claiming that NHS consultants’ pensions were “tax-free”.

The government further tried to blame NHS waiting lists, which now stand at 7.7 million, on the consultants’ and junior doctors’ strikes. But 7 million patients were waiting for treatment before industrial action began. 

Junior doctors

Junior doctors have not yet received an offer, though the government’s claim that their position is final looks less convincing in the light of the offer to consultants. 

Junior doctors will begin further strikes – from 20 to 23 December and from 3 to 9 January. They achieved remarkable results in their ballots, with 98 per cent voting for action on a turnout of 77 per cent in February 2023 with the same proportion in favour on a 71 per cent turnout in a summer re-ballot. Any action beyond early next year will require a further ballot.