BMA calls on Government to end gross injustice of denying specialist doctors pay uplifts

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Monday 5 June 2023

The BMA has called on the Government to put an end to the gross injustice of excluding some specialist, associate specialist, and specialty (SAS) doctors in England from annual pay uplifts.   
In a letter to the Health Secretary today, Dr Ujjwala Anand Mohite, chair of the Association’s SAS Committee, explained that colleagues employed on the 2021 contracts have twice been excluded from annual uplifts following recommendations from the pay body, the DDRB (Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration). 
The Government has previously insisted that those on the 2021 contracts are ‘outside’ of the DDRB’s remit because these contracts were created as part of a multi-year pay deal – when inflation stood at 1.5%.
Since then, the country has faced a once-in-a-generation cost of living crisis, but the Government refuses to acknowledge or review the impact this has on pay for SAS doctors on the 2021 contracts or indeed the attractiveness of these contracts.
The BMA has been strongly critical of a sub-inflationary 4.5% pay uplift last year, for those SAS doctors on the pre-2021 contracts, but believes that not giving it to all SAS doctors was especially unfair. The Association therefore, not only wants to see all SAS doctors included in annual pay uplifts, but also for those uplifts to properly reflect the value of these professionals by being in line with inflation.
Dr Mohite writes: “SAS doctors have gone above and beyond to help reduce record waiting lists, in a system that is under-resourced and under-staffed. Despite this, the Government has continually failed to recognise and reward SAS doctors accordingly and they have seen their real terms pay fall by over a quarter over the last 15 years.”
She added that SAS doctors face ‘unique challenges’, often falling victim to ‘gradism’, which seriously degrades morale.
“These feelings amongst our members of constantly being ignored or dismissed were further compounded by the Government’s decision, for the second time in a row, to exclude SAS doctors in England on the new 2021 contract from the uplifts awarded to the rest of the profession,” she writes.

“This is despite SAS doctors making up an essential part of the NHS workforce and the warnings from the DDRB themselves cautioning that a decision to not apply an award to groups subject to a pay deal will have a ‘significant effect on motivation, affecting retention, productivity, and ultimately patient care’.

Dr Mohite added: “It is imperative that the Government does not repeat this appalling treatment and that all SAS doctors are included in at least inflationary pay uplifts the Government announces following the recommendations of the DDRB. Anything else will add insult to injury and show a complete disregard for the crucial role SAS doctors play in keeping the NHS running.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives. 
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