NHS bosses hit back at huge pay demand for consultants during strikes

NHS strike: Workers protest outside University College Hospital

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NHS bosses have struck back at consultants’ demands to increase their basic pay at least threefold while junior doctors are on strike. Consultants who have covered for doctors during the repeated walkouts earn an average £42-£57 per hour. The British Medical Association (BMA) now advises its members to demand £158 per hour for day shifts and £262 for night shifts.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said that while health executives sympathise with doctors’ plight, this is being “eroded” by unilateral demands for higher pay.

He said that NHS executives were not consulted about the rates and that doctors should tackle pay disputes with the Government instead of targeting employers.

“If their dispute is with the Government with regards to both pay and pensions, it seems unreasonable to act without first seeking any kind of agreement with employers,” he added.

During strikes, the BMA has advised doctors to ask for £158 an hour for day shifts, £210 for evening shifts and £262 for overnight shifts.

According to the BMA, the pay rates should be used by any consultant who is asked to work outside of their usual specialty, as well as by emergency care consultants who are asked to work extra shifts or fill roles normally performed by junior doctors.

Around 40 percent of the medical workforce is classified as junior doctors, with two-thirds believed to be BMA members. They will be asked to walk out in their pay dispute between 6 am on March 13 and  6 am on March 16 across both planned and emergency care.

Junior doctors are demanding pay increases to make up for 26 percent pay cuts since 2008.

In a recent ballot, nearly 40,000 junior doctors voted to take industrial action, and hospital trusts and employers have now been notified that the 72-hour walkout will take place.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s last-ditch bid to avert a huge NHS crisis on Friday failed, with medics describing talks as “just a façade”. 

The British Medical Association (BMA) accused the Health Secretary of using delaying tactics and said that junior doctor strikes would go ahead this month as planned. 

They expressed frustration after meeting with Mr Barclay, who told them he had no authority to negotiate a new pay package and would have to take their concerns to the Prime Minister.

Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trevedi, co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors’ committee, described Mr Barclay as a “professional delayer” and asked why Rishi Sunak was not at the meeting.

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Dr Laurenson said: “We came here with a mandate and [Steve Barclay] turned up without one. There was never any real prospect of any real negotiation or offer – it was just a façade.”

With 11 days until the strike begins, Dr Laurenson claims Mr Barclay has not provided any sort of timetable for negotiations.

He added: “The Government aren’t taking us seriously. I don’t understand how the Government can look at a mandate that’s one of the strongest industrial mandates in history and essentially not have any preparations made or anything to put on the table.”

NHS leaders, however, welcomed the Government’s decision to invite all health unions involved in strikes instead of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) alone.

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