Outcome of consultative ballot on consultant pay in England

HCSA’s ruling Council has met to consider the results of the recent consultative ballot on pay for consultants in England.

This process saw strong engagement from members, with turnout over 60 percent.

The results showed discontent among consultants has grown significantly, with the numbers supporting strike action up 130 percent compared with a similar vote in 2021 and backing for action short of a strike up 92 percent.

Despite this strengthening sentiment among members, the number supporting strike action was insufficient to pass the stringent legal thresholds required to enable action following a postal ballot.

The Council therefore voted not, at this time, to move forward with a full postal ballot of consultants in England.

Following the decision, HCSA President Dr Naru Narayanan said: “These members voted by a slim margin against industrial action, a result respected by our Council in their decision not to move forward with a formal ballot.

“Consultants are highly skilled, patient-focused professionals who do their utmost to deliver quality care. For many years, the prospect of a consultant strike has been unthinkable. The huge shift towards support for action should be a wake-up call to the government.

“Senior doctors are seeing service standards decline and delivering quality care becoming harder and harder. We are haemorrhaging talent at both ends of the career ladder, and the treatment of junior doctors makes us fear for the future pipeline of consultants.

“Responsibility for the rising sentiment for action lies at the door of successive governments who have overseen swingeing real-terms pay cuts over the past 15 years and allowed understaffing and under-resourcing to impact services. If they fail to recognise this then the diminishing pool of consultant goodwill will inevitably run dry – if not now, then in the near future.

“As a democratic organisation, HCSA shall continue to act on the majority view of members and shall keep the situation under review. We shall be monitoring carefully the government’s response to the pay review body’s recommendations which is expected in the next eight weeks. The Council will again meet to consider the position.

“HCSA shall also continue to support our junior doctors robustly in their pay dispute, and campaign for reforms to ensure the pay review body has true independence from the government in future.”