UK

Hospital consultants to take industrial action in pay row

Hospital consultants in England are set to take industrial action on July 20 and 21 (Jeff Moore/PA)
Hospital consultants in England are set to take industrial action on July 20 and 21 (Jeff Moore/PA) Hospital consultants in England are set to take industrial action on July 20 and 21 (Jeff Moore/PA)

Hospital consultants in England are set to take industrial action next month after voting heavily in favour in a dispute over pay.

More than 24,000 members of the British Medical Association (BMA) backed industrial action by 86% on a turnout of 71%, well above the legal threshold of 50%.

The BMA said that unless the government makes a “credible offer” which can be put to its members, they will take part in industrial action on July 20 and 21 – just days after junior doctors in England are due to strike for five days over pay.

The BMA said take-home pay for consultants in England has fallen by 35% since 2008/2009.

The consultants’ industrial action will take the form of Christmas Day cover, meaning that most routine and elective services will be cancelled but full emergency cover will remain in place.

The BMA said it announced its planned dates for industrial action six weeks before the potential action so that consultants and their colleagues were able to put in early plans to manage patient lists and prioritise urgent patient care in the event of a successful ballot.

Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said: “We know consultants don’t take the decision around industrial action lightly, but this vote shows how furious they are at being repeatedly devalued by Government. Consultants are not worth a third less than we were 15 years ago and have had enough.

“Consultants don’t want to have to take industrial action, but have been left with no option in the face of a Government that continues to cut our pay year after year. However, it is not too late to avert strike action and the Government simply needs come back to us with a credible offer that we can put to our members.

“We are simply asking for fairness to ensure that there is a pay settlement that begins to reverse the real-terms pay decline that we have suffered and a commitment to fully reform the pay review process to ensure that it can make truly independent recommendations in the future that take into account historical losses so that we don’t find ourselves in this situation again.

“But if they refuse, it is with a heavy heart that we will take action next month. We will prioritise patient safety and continue to provide emergency care, in-keeping with the level of services available on Christmas Day.”

It comes just hours after the threat of more strikes by nurses ended because a ballot on further industrial action failed to meet the legal threshold.

The Royal College of Nursing said 84% of its members who voted backed more strikes.

But only 43% took part in the ballot, so it failed to reach the legal threshold of 50% required by the 2016 Trade Union Act.