BMA may advise private doctors over NHS pay dispute

By Robin Stride

NHS doctors who see private patients can expect to receive advice on their position from consultants’ national representatives if they are called to take industrial action over their pay dispute with the Government.

The BMA is surveying consultant members in England to find out what they think of the 3% pay award and what action – if any – they want it to take on their behalf. 

A spokesman told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘The findings of the survey will be reviewed by the BMA and help determine whether there is a need to proceed to a formal ballot. 

‘Industrial action can take many forms, including refusing Waiting List Initiative activity, enforcing UK working time regulations and working strictly to contract, and therefore we would need to consider the legal and contractual implications for NHS doctors who also undertake private practice work once a decision, if any, were to be made on taking industrial action.’

The BMA’s consultants committee has lobbied for a pay award of at least 5%.

It argues that with the retail price index already at 3.9% and the consumer price index currently predicted to increase to close to 4% later this year, the uplift is really a pay cut.

BMA consultants’ leader Dr Vishal Sharma

The BMA said the overall investment made by Government was below 3%, as the uplift was not being applied to Clinical Excellence Awards. ‘Given the extraordinary efforts of consultants over the last 16 months, the decision to effectively slash the value of these excellence payments is incomprehensible,’ it said.

BMA Consultants Committee chairman Dr Vishal Sharma expressed concern at reports that the Government was suggesting to fund this rise from within the existing NHS budget and through a potential increase in National Insurance contributions. 

Hospital doctors’ union the HCSA launched its own consultative ballot of members, seeking their views on industrial action over the pay award in England just ahead of the BMA. 

Depending on the results, it will consider whether to ballot formally for industrial action. HCSA president Dr Claudia Paoloni said: ‘We are urging all members to participate in this consultative ballot process in order to inform our next steps.’