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UK Government and BMA agree to talks over consultants pay dispute

The UK Government has agreed to meet with the British Medical Association (BMA) Consultants Committee in the hope to find a resolution to the current consultants pay dispute.

The Committee received an invitation to talk with the Department for Health and Social Care following a letter from the BMA requesting the resumption of negotiations and indicating they would pause consultant strikes.

These will be the first formal talks the Committee has had with the Government since May.

Dr Vishal Sharma, chair of the BMA Consultants Committee, said: ‘The BMA Consultants Committee has been clear that reform of the broken pay review process is essential to resolving this dispute and that the reformed pay review body is to make truly independent recommendations on pay in order to correct for the losses that consultants have experienced that have resulted in the current workforce crisis.

‘We will be expecting to discuss and explore other solutions in the forthcoming talks.

‘It is good to see the Government is willing to come to the table and it is vital that they commit to serious negotiations with a view to bringing this avoidable dispute to a conclusion.’

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In a series of posts on X (formerly Twitter), the Consultants Committee added: ’We will enter these negotiations positively and will fight hard to achieve the best possible outcome. We are clear that we will simply not talk for the sake of talking and the Government must also negotiate in good faith.

’The government has until 3 November to present us with a credible offer but if they fail to do so, we will not only announce further dates for industrial action but on 6 November will open a re-ballot to ensure we can continue taking industrial action going forward.’

After months of walkouts, consultants and junior doctors organised a joint strike for three full days at the beginning of this month, with ‘Christmas Day’-level cover.

And NHS England bosses had urged the Government to urgently resume talks with doctors ahead of winter.

NHS England chair Richard Meddings gave the stark warning that winter pressures will be ‘impossible to manage’ if also impacted by strikes, while chief executive Amanda Pritchard noted talks between the Government and doctors cannot resume ‘soon enough’.

In a formal warning letter, NHS England told the BMA that ‘cumulative’ impact of doctor strikes were causing ‘significant disruption and risk to patients’.

A version of this article was originally published by our sister publication Pulse.