• Doctors’ union HCSA warns consultants pay negotiations could stretch beyond 2021
  • Calls for investigation into ethnicity pay gap among consultants
  • Reiterates call for taskforce to look into early retirement and links to pensions changes

The progress of the consultants’ contract negotiations “remains extremely slow” and has not moved on since last year, a doctors’ trade union has said.

In its submission to the NHS Pay Review Body, the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association said it expects 2020-21 to be the “earliest possible date for an outcome” but suggested the timeline could “stretch even further”.

The union also urged the Pay Review Body to focus on “sufficient base remuneration” for hospital doctors “as distinct from the secretary of state’s suggestion of a multiyear pay deal”.

Last year, the government pledged to open negotiations for a multiyear consultant contract, but the HCSA said it was “concerned” by this suggestion. 

In its submission, the HCSA also called for an urgent joint investigation into the causes and proposed solutions around the ethnicity pay gap, involving itself the Department of Health and Social Care, the British Medical Association, and NHS England.

The union also called on the Pay Review Body members to play a “more vocal role” if the pay review system is to be seen as “legitimate within the profession”.

“Members can assist in this by adopting a significantly more robust and public approach towards advocating and defending their own recommendations,” the HCSA said.

On pensions, the union reiterated its call for a taskforce to seek better evidence around early retirement and warned changes to pensions and annual allowances are affecting the behaviour of senior doctors by disincentivising additional shifts and prompting early retirement.

The HCSA stressed the “clear link” between pay, morale and productivity and said the “impact of successive real terms cuts to wages on morale cannot be overstated”.

“No matter how hard consultants work, if they are not supported properly by the systems in which they operate then they will not be as productive as they could be”, the submission said. “To effectively address productivity, clinical leadership is required at all levels of the organisation.”

It also stressed the need for clinicians to be able to access training and leadership development so they can initiate and lead changes effectively.

NHS Employers, in its submission to the Pay Review Body published last week, also called on the Treasury to review the NHS pension scheme.

It warned that high earners, which include consultants, were leaving the scheme because of changes to tax allowances, and that this could risk its stability.