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Consultants vote No to government contract reform package

HCSA has today urged the government to get back round the negotiating table after consultant members in England rejected an offer aimed at ending their pay dispute. 

HCSA consultants voted 58 percent No to the package, citing issues including further erosion of crucial Supporting Professional Activities (SPA) time (see notes), as well as the overall level of investment and unevenness of the award across the pay scale.

Union President Dr Naru Narayanan and General Secretary Dr Paul Donaldson have written to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Victoria Atkins urging her to address consultants’ concerns, including impressing on the Prime Minister the need for greater financial investment.

In the letter, they state: “It is clear that if we are to reach an agreement which will be accepted by consultants, we will now need to re-engage in talks to address their concerns. We urge you to relay this outcome to the Prime Minister with the goal of unlocking more investment for medical and dental pay.

“It will be crucial for all parties to get back round the negotiating table with open minds and a clean slate.”

Commenting, HCSA President Dr Naru Narayanan said:

“What we have seen today is a rejection of the government offer on a number of points.

“We have listened to our members and the prospect of changes to SPA time in this offer rang clear alarm bells. They are deeply concerned that the time they need to develop their skills and impart knowledge to trainees has already been eroded beyond a sustainable level. They know first-hand the constant pressure they face from managers to reduce it still further.

“But there were also concerns around the 3.45 percent investment on the table given consultants’ pay has been eroded by around a third since 2008/9. Targeting this at specific pay points meant many consultants would have missed out on an uplift this year.

“The government needs to revisit the investment it is willing to make in our most experienced doctors. This result is a wake-up call. We have observed the Prime Minister’s repeated suggestion that the senior doctors’ pay dispute had been resolved, but the result today shows there is no room for complacency given low morale and years of underinvestment in staffing.

“We are confident that with a positive approach to further negotiations it is still possible to strike a deal which a majority of consultants will be willing to accept.”