News / Consultants agree revised pay deal

05 April 2024 Steve Brown

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Consultants in England have accepted the latest pay offer from the government, removing the threat of further industrial action from England’s most senior doctors.


The British Medical Association said that 83% of eligible members, on a turnout of 62%, had voted in favour of the deal, which the union said also included ‘significant reform’ to the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body (DDRB). The new deal builds on an earlier offer that was narrowly rejected by consultants that promised a 4.95% investment in pay. However, this would have been spread differentially across consultants with different levels of experience, meaning some would have received no further increase while others received up to 12.8%.

The new offer continues to use the 4.95% to reform the pay scale, with 3.45% of additional investment plus 1.5% from the redeployment of the new local clinical excellence awards, which will now be scrapped as of the beginning of April. But it also includes a 2.85% (£3,000) uplift for consultants with between four and seven years’ experience, who were the ones facing no further increase under the original offer. The new deal is on top of the 6% award that was already applied in 2023/24, which was in line with the DDRB recommendation, and will be backdated to 1 March 2024.

The changes will see consultants reaching the top of the pay scale quicker – reducing the time taken from 19 to 14 years with just five pay points from bottom to top. Taking the further deal on top of the already awarded 6% means that pay will have increased by 12.6% for a newly starting consultant, compared with pay in 2022/23, moving the starting salary to just under £100,000. The biggest increase is for a consultant with eight years experience who will see pay rise by 19.6% compared with 2022/23. And the top pay point, where consultants will spend most of their careers on average, increases by 10.8% to nearly £132,000, again compared with 2022/23.

The BMA had also questioned the independence of the DDRB, given that the government set affordability constraints. As part of the new deal, the government will not include information about inflation and wider economic performance in its remit letter, confining this to its evidence. There is also a commitment to agree a timetable that will see awards announced earlier than in recent years, so that the award is known about at the start of the financial year to which it relates.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said NHS leaders would be relieved at the resolution of consultants’ dispute. ‘The health service relies heavily on its consultant workforce and these professionals have helped to keep the most life-critical services afloat, including over the difficult winter period and the recent junior doctors' walkouts,’ he said. ‘This agreement between the BMA consultant committee and government shows that a sensible middle ground can be reached through negotiations.’ He called on the union’s junior doctors committee and government to re-enter negotiations to reach a similar agreement to stop further damaging strike action by junior doctors.

This was echoed by Julian Hartley (pictured), chief executive of NHS Providers. ‘We aren’t out of the woods yet, with junior doctors having voted for more strikes and industrial action, while other specialty and specialist doctors have rejected a government pay offer,’ he said. ‘Hugely disruptive and costly strikes in the NHS can’t become business as usual. Remaining concerns must be resolved.’