A THIRD group of NHS doctors are threatening to strike — as hospitals are forking out up to £3,000 per shift for cover.
Nearly 16,000 specialist, associate specialist and specialty (SAS) doctors will be polled on a walkout.
The medics would be the third British Medical Association faction to take action over pay, as consultants and junior doctors strike this week.
SAS doctors are typically less senior than consultants but higher ranking than junior doctors.
There are an estimated 15,595 in England and associate specialists earn an average £102,000 per year.
Dr Ujjwala Mohite, chair of SAS UK at the BMA, said: “It’s with a heavy heart that the SAS committee has decided to go ahead with an indicative ballot for industrial action, but the Government has left us with no choice.
“SAS doctors are not commonly known, but they deliver frontline patient care every day.
“We’ve seen our workload dramatically increase in recent years, but our pay hasn’t risen with inflation.”
It comes as BBC analysis of NHS data found consultants are earning up to £3,000 per shift covering for junior doctors on strike.
The BMA said the figures were in line with its suggested overtime rates — of up to £269 an hour.
A spokeswoman said: “The rate addresses the fact that for too long trusts have leaned on consultants to plug gaps.”