Specialist doctors accept new pay offer from government

Specialist, associate specialist, and specialty (SAS) doctors in England have voted in favour of a new pay deal from the government.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said 79.3% of members who took part in the ballot backed the new package.

It means SAS doctors on open contracts could see pay increases of between 9.5% and 19.4% compared with 2022/23.

It also includes a consolidated uplift of £1,400 to each pay point for SAS doctors on closed contracts.

This is on top of the 6% increase awarded by the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB) in 2023/24.

The deal follows months of negotiations and the rejection of a previous offer.

Though the dispute is now formally over, the BMA vowed to continue to push for further improvements to SAS doctors' pay and career development.

Dr Ujjwala Mohite, chairwoman of the BMA's SAS UK committee, said the package is "a step in the right direction in restoring SAS doctors' value in the NHS".

"The next step is seeing what the next DDRB pay round brings, and whether it brings us any closer to giving all SAS doctors, on all contracts, what they deserve," she said.

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She said not many people have heard of SAS doctors or know what they do, "but they are absolutely crucial to the running of the health service".

There are more than 10,000 SAS doctors working in the UK, according to the Association of Anaesthetists.

Dr Mohite said: "They are experienced, senior doctors who for a variety of reasons, didn't go down the traditional GP or consultant training pathway. They usually work in hospitals, delivering expert care alongside junior doctors and consultants."

She said a combination of "burnout, eroded pay, stunted career progression, and being taken for granted by the government" has seen many forced to leave the NHS altogether.

"Many SAS doctors also suffer from grade-ism - the idea that, because they don't fit into the traditional pathways, they are somehow not as important," she added.

"That's why, even though today marks significant progress in helping to keep more SAS doctors in the health service, the fight for pay restoration and improving the working lives of SAS doctors is far from over."

The Association of Anaesthetists says about 20% of hospital doctors in England are neither consultants nor junior doctors and many members of that group would identify themselves as SAS doctors.

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Junior doctors are set to go on strike from 7am on 27 June until 7am on 2 July, just days before the general election.

Consultants in England voted in April to accept an improved government pay deal, bringing to an end their year-long dispute which had led to strike action.