NHS Workforce Update

Department of Health and Social Care written statement – made at on 16 May 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

I am pleased to inform the House that, earlier this week, I made a revised, reforming offer to the British Medical Association (BMA) Specialist, Associate Specialist, and Specialty (SAS) committee. The Committee have agreed to put this deal to their members for a vote with a recommendation that they accept.

SAS doctors are a vital part of the NHS. They focus predominantly on providing direct patient care by providing clinical expertise in their specialist area and taking responsibility for a full range of patients within their area of practice, making them essential to our efforts to cut waiting lists and deliver the highest quality service to patients.

During the course of the multi-year agreement for SAS doctors, pay for the pre-2021 contracts has been increasing at a faster rate than for the 2021 contracts. Therefore, the revised offer continues to address the unintended imbalance between the pre-2021 and the 2021 contracts to ensure consistency and fairness across the workforce, help speed up the delivery of elements of the new contracts introduced in 2021 and encourage more existing doctors to take up the new contract. This offer, if accepted, would mean that pay scales for those on the pre-2021 contracts would receive an uplift of £1,400. New pay scales would take effect from 1 April 2024. The offer also includes steps to support career progression opportunities for SAS doctors.

As in the original offer, the revised offer includes a joint piece of work to consider how Locally Employed Doctors – doctors who are employed on local terms and conditions as opposed to national – can be better supported to progress in their careers.

This offer is independent of the headline pay uplift SAS doctors received in 2023-24 and that they will receive in 2024-25 through the established pay review body process. The DDRB will still recommend a pay uplift for SAS doctors in 2024-25 and the Government will consider it in the usual way.

If this offer is accepted, the BMA will withdraw the rate card for SAS doctors in England with immediate effect and the dispute will come to an end, meaning no industrial action would be taken by BMA SAS doctors in England under their current mandate.

The BMA will recommend this offer to their members in a vote in the coming weeks.

I also want to inform the House that we have agreed with the BMA Junior Doctors Committee to explore a process of mediation, which I hope will move us towards a resolution. Both parties have mutually agreed a preferred mediator, and the BMA and my department will now begin the process of engaging with the selected mediator.