Hospital Dr News

HCSA ballots on industrial action over pay

HCSA members have said they are prepared to take industrial action over the government’s rejection of the pay review body’s recommendations on pay.

The HCSA has been consulting with doctors working for the NHS in England for the past three weeks.

The consultation, which closed on Monday 18 August, asked if HCSA members would be prepared to take industrial action. Just under 40% of the HCSA membership in England responded to the survey with nearly 80% of members voting ‘yes’ they would be prepared to take some form of industrial action

Members were asked two questions, firstly if they would be in favour of taking strike action, secondly if they would be in favour of taking action short of strike action. The response to both questions was clear, over 52% of those voting ‘yes’ said they would be willing to take strike action and over 68% of those voting ‘yes’ said they would be willing to take action short of strike action.

The HCSA executive held an extraordinary meeting last week and agreed to progress to a formal ballot on industrial action.

The consultation on pay came after the government rejected the recommendation of the independent Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) to award NHS medical staff a 1% consolidated increase.

The DDRB said when it made its recommendation that this was affordable for the NHS and the government. The government instead awarded a 1% non-consolidated payment for 12 months, but only to those on the top of their pay scale.

Professor John Schofield, HCSA president, said “We have received a clear message from our consultant and specialist members that they are deeply unhappy about the government’s position on remuneration in the NHS.

“Doctors have only very rarely indicated any willingness to undertake industrial action, and it demonstrates the strength of feeling within our profession. We will continue to listen to our members and represent their views to NHS Employers. I hope that we can encourage further dialogue between the government, employers and unions to avoid the possibility of action.”

Doctors received a 1% consolidated rise in 2013/2014. However, consultants had suffered a three-year pay freeze previously.

HCSA general secretary Eddie Saville commented: “This is an overwhelming response and sends a clear signal to this government that consultants and specialists are angry and frustrated by their decision not to honour these independent recommendations. Consultants and specialists are working harder than ever to meet increasing demands, and cope with underfunding.

“Morale is on a downward spiral, motivation is waning and many doctors are feeling stressed and undervalued. I do urge the government to rethink their approach now and for the future.”

Members of the Unite union started voting this week on possible industrial action, while Unison, the GMB and the Royal College of Midwives will follow suit shortly.

On 21 June 2012, UK doctors took industrial action for the first time in 40 years in order to protest about changes to their NHS pension; they provided emergency and urgent care only.

This action was the result of strong support in a BMA ballot which showed a clear mandate for industrial action. However, the turn out on the day was relatively low and patchy, the union didn’t repeat the exercise and the government pressed ahead with its pension reforms regardless.

Read hospital doctor pay scales.

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