In a narrow vote, senior doctors in England have rejected a proposed pay deal, dealing a blow to the government’s efforts to end months of disruptive strike action, according to the British Medical Association (BMA). The ongoing strikes by doctors have added strain to the National Health Service (NHS), already burdened with over 7 million patients on waiting lists, resulting in numerous canceled appointments and procedures.

The rejected pay offer received a 51.1% vote against, indicating that consultants believe the current proposal falls short in resolving the dispute and addressing the recruitment and retention crisis among senior doctors. BMA consultants committee chair Vishal Sharma stated that while the result was close, there is an opportunity for the government to improve the offer.

The proposed agreement aimed to reform the pay structure for senior doctors, or consultants, by streamlining pay brackets, expediting the path to the top, and establishing a clearer link between pay progression and experience.

The rejection poses a challenge to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to reducing waiting lists, especially with an upcoming election. The prolonged pay dispute with healthcare staff could impede the government’s ability to fulfill this key pledge.

Health Minister Victoria Atkins expressed disappointment at the doctors’ rejection of what she deemed a “fair and reasonable” offer. She emphasized the government’s desire to focus on providing high-quality patient care and is carefully considering the next steps.

A separate ongoing pay dispute with junior doctors adds to the challenges faced by the healthcare system. The broader context includes strikes by various workers, such as nurses, teachers, and railway workers, across Britain in the last two years, driven by a cost-of-living crisis and demands for improved pay. The BMA intends to continue engaging with consultants and seeks talks with the government in the coming days.

Quest :Emmanuel kelvin

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