Ujjwala Mohite, SAS chair, 12:5, 3:2

SAS doctors reject pay offer

Pay & Contracts
Tim Tonkin

No further industrial action called as 62 per cent vote against Government proposed terms

SAS doctors in England have rejected the Government’s offer on a new pay deal, with the BMA now set to consult members on the next steps.

The association has urged the Government to hold further talks on improving pay and conditions for specialist, associate specialist and specialty doctors, after a ballot on whether to accept the offer saw 62 per cent of doctors vote against endorsing the terms.

The now-rejected offer would have seen a commitment to uplifts in basic pay of between 6 and 9 per cent for doctors on the 2021 SAS contracts, but notably excluded those doctors on the 2008 associate specialist terms.

While the BMA specialist, associate specialist and specialty doctors committee has not made a call for any industrial action yet, associate specialists and specialty doctors, as well as other SAS grade doctors (including SAS locally employed doctors), have a mandate for taking strike action.

SASC UK chair Ujjwala Anand Mohite (pictured above) said the result of the ballot, which took place between 29 January and 28 February, meant SAS doctors had sent a clear message to ministers that their offer had not gone far enough in addressing concern, that the struggle to improve pay and conditions would continue.

Devalued staff

She added that, while SAS and locally employed doctors already held a mandate for industrial action, SASC UK was not seeking calls for strikes at this stage, adding, however, that the struggle to improve pay and conditions would continue.

She said: ‘This rejection vote has made it clear that our members do not feel the offer goes far enough to end the dispute, or solve the current level of feeling among SAS doctors, dejected after years of being devalued for their work.

‘Combined with our mandate for strike action, these results emphasise the strength of feeling on the ground among SAS doctors, and how important it is to our members that the Government does more to value the work that they do.

‘Unfortunately, from this vote and from conversations we’ve had with colleagues the changes presented in this deal do not give SAS doctors confidence that they will properly address the devaluation our profession has seen in recent years.’

She added: ‘We will be engaging further with members and with ministers, but the mandate we have is too great for the Government to ignore any longer. No doctor wishes to strike, but be assured, after years of undervaluing our lifesaving service, we are prepared to take action.’

SAS doctors have endured a significant fall in real-terms pay over the past 15 years, with rising inflation and exclusion of the new contracts from pay awards granted by the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration the driving force behind balloting for industrial action.

The BMA is now launching a survey to consult with members on areas they want to see improvements to the contract offer.