Government and BMA agree offer for NHS SAS doctors
The government and the British Medical Association (BMA) have reached an agreement to put an offer to Specialist, Associate Specialist and Speciality Doctors
- BMA SAS Committee to put government offer to members for vote in coming weeks
- If accepted, offer will realign pay scales, improve career development and progression, and create extra specialist roles in the NHS
- No strike action will be called while members are consulted
The government and the British Medical Association (BMA) have reached an agreement to put an offer of reforms to Specialist, Associate Specialist and Speciality (SAS) Doctors.
The headline pay uplift for 2023 to 2024 was settled through the pay review body process. The offer is separate to that and focuses on supporting recent contract reform, and a commitment to create extra specialist roles in the NHS.
In 2021, the government agreed a multi-year deal with the BMA SAS Committee. If accepted, this offer will address imbalances in the pay scales for SAS doctors on 2021 contracts and pre-2021 contracts to ensure consistency and fairness across the SAS workforce, speed up the delivery of some of the key objectives of the 2021 deal, such as the rollout of the new Specialist grade, and encourage more existing SAS doctors to take up the new contracts, which offer modernised terms and conditions.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Victoria Atkins, said:
"I value the vital work of SAS doctors and I’m pleased we have been able to make this offer following constructive talks with the BMA.
"If accepted, it will realign pay scales, improve career progression and support the NHS to create more specialist roles – boosting patient care and supporting the workforce."
The 2021 contract provided more opportunities for progression for highly experienced specialty doctors, introducing a specialist grade to recruit, motivate and retain senior doctors. It also introduced a new pay structure to enable SAS doctors to reach the top of the scale more quickly, along with a number of safeguards to support the health and wellbeing of SAS doctors.
The government’s offer includes plans to set up a £5 million funding pot to encourage and support NHS employers to create more specialist roles where there is need. This will fund a significant increase in the number of specialist doctors – improving patient care and access - and create further opportunities for doctors to progress in their careers.
In July 2023, the government accepted the independent pay review body recommendations for 2023-24 in full for SAS doctors, uplifting pay for those on the pre-2021 contracts by 6% and those on the 2021 contracts by 3%, on top of the increase for 2023-24 already agreed as part of their multi-year deal.
This package is separate from the pay-setting process and focused on supporting the rollout of the reformed SAS contract. It does not affect the pay award of between 3% and 6% SAS doctors received through the pay review body process this financial year and it will not interfere with the process for setting pay next year.
If the offer is accepted by its members, the BMA has also agreed to end the use of its rate card for SAS doctors in England - which advises doctors on how much to charge for non-contractual work, including cover during strikes.
The BMA will put this offer to its members for a vote in the new year. No strike action will be called while members are being consulted.
It comes after the government and unions representing consultant doctors in England reached an agreement to put an offer to union members following constructive negotiations last month.