Image source, PA Media
Image caption, Junior doctors and consultants joined a picket line at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital earlier this month
The government has agreed to meet consultants in the hope of resolving a dispute which has led to strikes in England.
The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents consultants, said it would not call any more strikes until November to allow time for talks.
But the Department of Health said “headline pay” was not on the table.
A wave of NHS strikes has led to more than a million appointments and operations being rescheduled.
Consultants and junior doctors in England staged a three-day joint strike at the start of October.
Many health bosses have implored both sides to enter talks, with concerns raised over the prospect of further industrial action during the winter period.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said it would meet the BMA following its commitment to pause strike action, but consultants had already received a “fair and reasonable pay rise” which had been recommended by the independent pay review body.
“This means doctors who started their hospital training this year have received a 10.3% pay increase, with the average junior doctor getting 9.8% and consultants 6%, alongside generous reforms to their pensions – the BMA’s number one ask,” the spokesperson added.
Dr Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA consultants committee, said it was “good to see the government is willing to come to the table” but added the pay review body needed reform to “correct the losses that consultants have experienced that have resulted in the current workforce crisis”.
“We will be expecting to discuss and explore other solutions in the forthcoming talks,” he added.
Consultants have not put a figure on what pay increase they would like but insist it must be above inflation, to start restoring pay they have lost once inflation is taken into account.
This year, consultants have been given a 6% pay rise by the government – as recommended by the independent pay review body.
It brings their basic salary to between £93,00 and £126,000 depending on experience. But consultants also earn extra – about a quarter more – for things such as being on-call, additional hours and bonuses.