The majority of staff and associate specialist (SAS) doctors have voted to accept the government’s offer of a new national contract.
The BMA has announced the result of a UK wide ballot in which 60.4% of respondents voted for the introduction of a new UK contract for doctors and dentists in the SAS grades and 39.6% voted against.
The poll had a 40% response rate from the 13,000 SAS doctors and dentists and the results of the vote are being discussed at a meeting of the BMA’s staff and associate specialist committee (SASC) today.
Mr Mohib Khan, co-chairman of the SASC, said: “SAS doctors have voted by a clear majority to accept the government’s contract offer. I would like to thank the thousands of doctors who took part in the poll.
“The BMA’s staff and associate specialist committee will meet to discuss the results further.”
SAS doctors are the last group of NHS workers to negotiate a comprehensive new contract and negotiations began in May 2005.
The contract will mean –
- A new grade of specialty doctor to which staff grade doctors and other non-consultant career grade doctors (except GP-qualified staff) will assimilate.
- A new salary scale with improved basic pay.
- Average pay increases for staff grades of 5.2% in 2008-09 and 5% in 2009-10.
- Clear standards for entry to the grade and progression through thresholds.
- Improved job planning.
Heather Lawrence, chair of NHS Employers’ SAS negotiating team, said: “We are pleased that the SAS doctors have voted to accept the contract, which we believe is a good deal for both doctors and patients.
“The new contract provides these doctors with a greater opportunity to develop and progress in their careers, as well as improved recognition for their efforts, more accurately rewarding their valuable contribution to the NHS.”
Health Secretary Alan Johnson also welcomed the news, saying: “Although it has been a long and sometimes rocky road to reach this point, this is a clear indication that SAS doctors share our belief that the contract is good for the profession, patients and the NHS.
"Under the contract, SAS doctors will receive much fairer financial rewards that recognise their exceptional skills and experience. They will also have greater opportunities to progress to the top of their grade.”