Hospital Dr News

Consultant Contract delayed until the New Year as negotiations falter over poor pay rise

The ongoing consultant contract negotiations between the BMA and NHS Employers have been further delayed.

After years of negotiations, a new consultant contract was due to be released for consultation with doctors earlier this year.

However, progress has been stymied by the low pay offer for consultants for 2018/2019.

The Government gave a 1.5% pay rise to consultants, despite the independent Pay Review Body recommending 2%.

Furthermore, it only equates to a .75% uplift because the Government insisted it came into effect in October (and is not backdated) – making it worse that the sub-inflation 1% rises given in previous years.

The current consultant contract negotiations were initiated in September 2013 at the request of the Government.

Through the new contract the Government has been seeking the removal of s3p6, which is the right to decline weekend elective work; removal of automatic pay progression; a lower starting salary and lower final salary; increased out of hours (OOH) work to meet seven day services, but with no new investment; extended premium time: Mon to Sat, 7am to 10pm; and, a new performance pay scheme.

The BMA has resisted changes to plain time, with the definition remaining Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm.

The Government has also conceded in principle that consultants can stay on the 2003 contract, which would not be subject to significant change.

The new contract would have a two-point pay scale, under which a consultant would move from the starting salary to the top of the scale in six years.

This would be beneficial under the career average (CARE) pension scheme, where reaching and maintaining a higher salary earlier is more efficient.

There would also be a number of safeguards, including a maximum number of weekends a year, protections for evening work and contractual compensatory rest.

However, due to the pay dispute, the contract offer has not yet been finalised and the finer details of the new contract are subject to change while discussions are still ongoing.

The BMA estimate that the contract offer will now go out to consultation among members early in 2019.

The immediate future of the Clinical Excellence Awards scheme has been secured until 2021, with negotiations on a long-term replacement for the scheme continuing.

The BMA says there has been a 19% decrease in consultants’ real terms pay over the past 10 years.

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