I had very much hoped to have been able to give you a significant update about our contract negotiations for some time now – it’s been months since I was able to do so.
It’s never quite been the right time, as it has felt there was something more substantial to say just around the corner following our next negotiations meeting. I’m afraid I still don’t have a full deal to be announcing to you, because we are still yet to complete things in the negotiation room, but I felt it important to give you some news now ahead of that as it has been so long since my last blog.
As you might expect, it’s not possible to get absolutely everything you want out of negotiations – sometimes there has to be some give and take. Nevertheless, I am very much hoping that you will be pleased with what we have managed to agree. I know your priorities will be about pay-scales, out of hours work, and creation of a Specialist Grade – we have worked hard to secure the best deal we could on these. I’d love to be able to give you some more detail on these areas, but until the deal is complete individual items could change. However, I remain confident that the new Specialist Doctor offer will be attractive in comparison with the old SD in Scotland and with the new SD contract on offer in the rest of the UK.
When the deal is complete it will first go to our committee to decide whether they are happy for it to be put out to a ballot of SAS members in Scotland, to see whether you believe it is a good deal for our profession. So, if you want to be able to have your say on this you need to be a member (if you’re not already here’s how you can join). In the meantime, it will be extremely helpful if you already have an up to date, agreed, job plan – this will likely make transition to the new contract much smoother if this is what you decide to do. If you are having difficulties agreeing a job plan you can get advice and support on this as part of BMA membership – you can contact us via phone on 0300 123 1233, email or live webchat. I hope there won’t be, but you might have issues with the process of transition to the new contract – again if so, you can get help and support as part of BMA membership.
Aside from these direct contract negotiations, we’ve been continuing to work with colleagues, including juniors, consultants and GPs, to develop our strategy in the wake of the pay award announcement earlier in the summer. Thanks to those of you who responded to our survey on this subject – these have given us a clear indication of your feelings on the matter. You can read the blog from our immediate past chair of Scottish Council, Lewis Morrison, about the results of the survey and immediate actions. Our new chair of Scottish Council, Iain Kennedy, has also produced a blog which gives some further detail on our priorities, which definitely include Pay but also Pensions, Working conditions, Workforce and Workload.
While I’ve got your attention, if you are interested in being more actively involved in SSASC, especially as we head towards the end of our negotiations, then we still have vacancies for representatives from NHS Ayrshire & Arran, NHS Fife, NHS Grampian, NHS Highland and NHS Lanarkshire. If you work in any of these areas and would be interested in joining the committee until June 2023, then please contact Fiona Dawson for more information.
I hope to be able to bring you further news within the next few weeks of the completion of our negs and include some of the details which will help you decide whether you think it is a good deal for SAS doctors generally and whether you might wish to transfer to the new contract as it is a good deal for you specifically. So, watch this space.
Bernie Scott, chair SSASC
I appreciate the update but I can’t help but feel disappointed that there is yet further delay to announcing the results of your negotiations of a new contact for us in Scotland. We have now waited far beyond what we were initially told we would have to. It is now significantly delayed behind the rest of the UK and I very much hope that in the final contract and transitioning to it, this will be realised and reflected in the final contact offered.
With regard to wider action on pay by the BMA I feel that without knowing details of our new contract it is extremely difficult to know how we as a group are to respond and how it’s likely to impact on us directly. For example are we to be offered a multi year pay award and would this exclude us from the annual pay negotiations?. I personally feel that the pay offer we have been presented with this year falls far short of what is fair and deserved by all groups in the NHS. And it doesn’t surprise me that the is an ever growing workforce crisis if this is how we aren’t valued (as with most public sector employees). And we are now getting towards the end of the year going into what will likely be the most challenging winter and we must surely act soon if we are to be heard.
Thank you for commenting. Regarding the delays to negotiations; they didn’t begin until August 2021 due to the pandemic, so a lot of progress has been made in the space of just one year. There was also a slight pause in December of last year, and January this year – again due to Covid. The rest of the UK negotiations took a full year, before the pandemic – so although we’ve started later, we’re on the same timescale.
We are still finalising the deal so we are unable to say anything about payscales and whether it is a multi-year deal as that is all part of the final discussions. However, the comparison between the current payscales in Scotland and any new payscales (and how a new payscale might compare with England and rUK) is a big part of our consideration in the negotiations. We’re also very aware of the difficulty taking into account the current economic and inflationary pressures.
We appreciate that not knowing what the new contract might look like has made it difficult for SAS doctors to evaluate a response to pay – the results of our recent survey have been helpful, but we’re mindful of having to add in the current unknown of new payscale for a new contract.
Bernie Scott, chair SSASC