Senior doctors in England have voted to accept an improved offer from the UK Government on pay and conditions, marking an end to the long-standing protest that has put a strain on the NHS.  

The acceptance of the NHS consultant pay deal concludes over a year of industrial action by consultants. 

On 5 April, the British Medical Association (BMA) said that 83% of consultants participating in the three-week referendum supported the offer, which is seen as a substantial improvement over the previously rejected proposal in January. 

According to the government, the agreement aims to tackle the gender pay gap in medicine and provides consultants with a clearer understanding of their pay progression.  

The existing core contract for consultants, which has not been updated in 20 years, will now be reformed to better reflect modern working practices. Enhancements mainly include shared parental leave provisions, aligning with other NHS staff benefits.  

Starting next year, the body will undergo changes in member appointments, and the government will no longer restrict its remit to inflation targets and economic evidence. 

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Revised terms of reference for the review body will now consider earnings developments concerning long-term labour market trends, international benchmarks, and comparator professions.  

The BMA has emphasised that these modifications will prevent the review body from disregarding the financial losses experienced by doctors and competition from abroad, where UK doctors are enticed by considerably higher salaries. 

While the new deal will still result in fewer pay points and a quicker journey to the top of the pay scale for consultants, it includes a 2.85% salary increase to for those with four to seven years of service who were initially excluded from the uplift.  

This is in addition to the 6% pay rise granted last summer and is separate from the 2024/2025 pay award. 

BMA committee chair Vishal Sharma said: “After years of repeated real terms pay cuts, caused by government interference and a failure of the pay review process, consultants have spoken and now clearly feel that this offer is enough of a first step to address our concerns to end the current dispute.”