The huge wage gap between striking consultants and nurses is being laid bare today, as senior doctors insist their wages have “dropped more” than other public sector workers.
British Medical Association chiefs made this revelation this week as they defended the strikes that have brought the NHS to a standstill.
But The Sun on Sunday can reveal that a top doctor earned 14 times more than the average nurse in 2020.
Advisers say they have suffered a 35 per cent drop in real wages since 2008/2009 and are aiming for a “full recovery”.
dr Vishal Sharma, chairman of BMA’s Advisory Committee, said: “Advisors’ salaries have been cut more than any other group in the public sector.”
The Department of Health says the average base salary for consultants is £97,900 – but doctors can also increase their pay through overtime and awards.
This brings the average annual salary of a consultant to as much as £128,000, according to the government.
But according to the latest data from NHS Digital, a doctor made almost £500,000 from allowances in 2020.
The average salary for nurses who have accepted a five per cent salary offer is now £33,000 to £35,000, says nurses.co.uk.
But the most experienced nurses can make upwards of £114,000.
Last night a nurse criticized the impact of adviser strikes on the already flagging NHS.
Tilly Shipsey, 28, from Dorset, qualified in February 2020.
After earning £26,000 from the NHS, she joined an agency and took home £45,000 a year.
Tilly said: “When I worked in the NHS we didn’t get any of the benefits or perks that counselors get.
“We had a normal pension and only got paid travel expenses to and from the hospitals.
“The only way I could increase my salary was by leaving the NHS – and I felt I had no choice.”
Tilly also criticized the consultants’ “uncomfortable” strike action.
She added: “Obviously the consultants have had years of training and I agree they deserve good pay.
“But the nurses’ pay does not reflect the work we do.
“The strikes led to a Christmas service. Morale among nurses is very low.
“Thus, discussions about consultants getting an even bigger raise on an already substantial salary seem distasteful and risk only worsening morale.”
NHS data released this month showed a senior doctor in the Midlands pocketed £489,500 for the year’s work.
Two others in the Midlands and London earned £386,000 and £385,500 respectively.
Last week the Government announced a six per cent pay rise for NHS advisers, saying it would take their average salary to £134,000 a year.
But senior doctors continued the 48-hour strike beginning at 7 a.m. Thursday, disrupting care for tens of thousands of patients.
On the same day, the BMA released new analysis showing that consultant salaries have lagged those of lawyers, architects and financial advisors over the past 14 years, with cash gains in these professions six times those of top medical professionals.
Counselors spend four to seven years in medical school, followed by two years of undergraduate training.
They then begin core and specialty training, which can often last up to seven years.
Hospital advisors are responsible for providing patients with specialist care and expertise in their specialty.
But NHS leaders warned it meant strikes would bring routine care “virtually to a standstill”.
‘Back to work’
It emerged last week that advisers had boasted they were “financially better off” as a result of the strike action – as they could bill the NHS “a fortune” in overtime rates for postponed appointments.
dr Clive Peedell, a consulting oncologist in Middlesbrough, canceled a radiation therapy clinic to join the strike on Friday and was treating those patients outside of office hours.
He tweeted: “I’m going to lose a day’s wages. . . but I will be claiming BMA rates for my additional ad hoc clinical work, which will be remunerated at 3-4 times my normal hourly rate.”
Some consultants have benefited from high overtime pay to cover striking young doctors who have been off work for five days this month.
The BMA’s ‘rate map’ asks senior doctors to charge £215 an hour on weekends or evenings and £269 an hour for night shifts.
A nurse earning £38,181 a year or £19.58 an hour would normally make around £30 an hour.
Consultants also benefit from high bonuses.
Senior doctors can receive annual payments of up to £40,000 on top of their six-figure salaries via performance bonuses.
You can also supplement your income with private work.
Figures show NHS counselors are currently carrying out around 800,000 private interventions a year.
But while they make money, tens of thousands of NHS nurses have to fight for bonuses.
Those supplements – worth up to £1,600 and paltry compared to consultants’ perks – were part of the Government’s latest pay deal, which saw a five per cent increase.
But an estimated 25,000 have yet to get it.
Advisors also have access to some of the best public sector pension schemes.
In this year’s budget, they benefited from a significant pension increase through the abolition of the lifetime bonus.
Now senior doctors can save more for retirement tax-free than under the policy’s previous cap of £1.07million – the threshold above which they are taxed.
The Government estimates that a consultant who retires at 65 can now expect a pension of more than £60,000 a year.
By comparison, a newly qualified nurse in England and Wales on a salary of around £27,000 pays around £183 of her basic salary into her pension each month.
Advisors can claim up to £10,000 in tax-free ‘living expenses’, including diversion postage and nursery fees.
Nurses are only entitled to very small expenses, such as a tax credit for a £125 per tax year allowance for washing uniforms.
Those who buy tights and shoes for work can reclaim up to £18.
And while nurses called off their strike in May after agreeing to a five percent increase, the BMA is threatening another strike by counselors on August 24-25.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said last week: “I am disappointed that the BMA is continuing this strike.
“My door is always open to discuss questions about lost wages, but this wage award is final, so I urge the BMA to end their strikes immediately.”
“More than 600,000 appointments, procedures and surgeries have been missed, canceled or postponed in eight months of industrial action.
Last night Tory Philip Davies, MP for Shipley in Yorkshire, said: “Advisors need a certain level of self-confidence.
“You should stop campaigning politically, get back to work and stop ransoming the country.”
A BMA spokesman said: “We firmly believe that in addition to doctors, our nursing colleagues also need a decent salary increase.”
“It is misleading to say that these payments are typical of the average consultant.
“It doesn’t reflect at all the reality of the profession and how consultants are actually paid.
“Counselors are demanding justice, not a raise — an end to the pay cuts they have experienced over the past 15 years and a reform of the rigged pay-review process that oversees them.”