BMA extremely disappointed that pay uplift for doctors in England doesn’t adequately reward doctors and demands fair uplifts

by BMA media office

Press release from the BMA.

Last reviewed: 21 July 2021
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The BMA says that it is hugely disappointed by the Government’s announced 3% pay uplift for doctors in England. The Association says it doesn’t go far enough in recognising the efforts made by frontline staff in the last 18 months – and will leave some doctors worse off than others.

While the award is higher than the initial 1% proposed by the Government earlier this year, it is lower than the at least 5% rise for senior hospital doctors that the BMA has been campaigning for and does not address significant pay erosion experienced in recent years. It also fails to provide additional uplifts to those doctors with previously agreed pay deals – which means thousands of doctors, including all junior doctors, get nothing additional in this proposal despite the extraordinary sacrifices made on the frontline throughout the pandemic. The BMA is demanding that the Government provides them with an equivalent uplift to recognise they have worked just as hard as the entire medical workforce

With inflation currently predicted to increase to close to 4% later this year, the BMA believes the uplift should be seen for what it is – another real-terms pay cut for England’s most senior and highly-skilled clinicians.

More than 4,000 doctors and members of the public have written to their local MP demanding a fair pay rise for all doctors, recognising how the profession has gone above and beyond in response to the incredible demands on the health service; it’s a shame the Government hasn’t seen fit to do the same.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“It is disappointing that today’s announcement of a 3% pay uplift for doctors in England does not adequately recognise the extraordinary contribution of doctors working in the most challenging period in their professional lives. Doctors have risked their health, and some have even lost their lives as they have worked to treat patients and protect the nation against a deadly virus. Scores of doctors have not taken annual leave and have worked extra hours without pay as they served the nation. Now they face a gruelling year ahead with millions of patients on waiting lists, and the country in the midst of another COVID-19 wave.  

“Our members have been left exhausted, burned out and on the verge of physical and mental breaking point by the past 18 months. Junior doctors and GPs on multi-year pay deals in England have given just as much of themselves as all doctors to care for their patients – and yet have been callously disregarded in this pay award and will receive less than their peers. In all, doctors, including those on multi-year pay deals, have given the same care to their patients. In recognition the Government should now ensure they are all given the same fair pay uplift and it is something we will be calling upon Government to review and think again in the coming days."

BMA consultants committee chair elect Dr Vishal Sharma said:

“Although today’s announcement is testament to the thousands of our members who made their views crystal clear when the Government first suggested giving a paltry 1% uplift in March, it still falls short of the at least 5% uplift that the BMA’s consultants committee had called for, and given the predicted rates of inflation, it should be seen for what it is - another effective pay cut. It is extremely disappointing that the Government has once again failed to address the long-term pay erosion that consultants in England have faced over the last decade. Today’s consultants have given their all in leading the fight against Covid-19. Some at the expense of their own health. Others with their lives. And this pressure will only intensify as we begin to tackle the backlog of delayed treatment caused by the pandemic.

“While Ministers may have awarded consultants more than they first suggested, today’s uplift does little to begin clawing back what consultants have lost due to years of below inflationary pay rises, resulting in real-terms pay cuts of around 28% in a decade. These pay cuts, alongside punitive pension rules, are key drivers behind doctors leaving the NHS, and right now we can ill-afford to lose any more of our most experienced clinicians at a time we need them most. Over the coming days and weeks, the BMA will be talking to members affected by today’s announcement to better understand what next steps they may want the Association to take in response to this offer.”

BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Sarah Hallett said:

"The burden shouldered by junior doctors during the pandemic has been immense, and therefore the Government’s decision to exclude them from the pay uplift announced today is nothing short of insulting. In refusing to award the additional 1% to junior doctors in England above their multi-year pay deal, ministers have shown little regard for the enormous contributions of junior doctors over the last 18 months.

“We have spent days on COVID wards with no end in sight, redeployed into unfamiliar departments, and all against a backdrop of ill-fitting or non-existent PPE that left junior doctors fearing for their safety and the safety of their patients.

“Many of our members will, rightly, be angry. Today would have been an opportunity for ministers to recognise the sacrifices we have made and the care we have delivered with a significant pay uplift. They must urgently reconsider, and ensure the entire profession receives a fair and equitable uplift.”

BMA sessional GP committee chair Dr Ben Molyneux said:

“It appears that the Government is beginning to listen to doctors and the public, who have made clear that the 1% proposal made earlier this year was completely unacceptable for those who have spent the last 18 months giving their all on the front line.

“But while today’s announcement is an improvement on the insulting earlier offer, it does not begin to address the years of sub-inflation uplifts experienced by GPs employed at practices in England, who have seen their average take-home pay drop by almost a quarter (24.6%) in a decade. And with inflation forecast to rise to close to 4 per cent this year, today’s uplift looks set to be yet another real-terms pay cut.

“What is most unfair, however, is that all GPs are not being treated equally, with partners given no extra funding to pay salaried staff this uplift, something which must be addressed urgently.”

Dr Richard Vautrey, BMA GP committee chair, said:

“It’s shameful for the Government to sell this as a pay rise for doctors, while asking other doctors to foot the bill.

“Salaried GPs will rightly want to be paid the full uplift announced today; GP partners will rightly be thinking about where that money will now have to come from and what cuts they will have to make to afford it.

“All GPs have gone above and beyond during the pandemic – yet with this announcement the Government attempts to divide the profession by not giving partners the funding needed to pay the 3% uplift. It’s absolutely critical that the Government provides this additional money to practices now so they are able to do this.

“Partners will feel that their hard work and sacrifices of the last 18 months – when they have moved heaven and earth to transform services as well as leading the vaccination campaign - have been completely ignored. They will yet again feel undervalued by ministers, further plunging levels of morale when many are at rock bottom.”

Over the coming days and weeks, the BMA will be talking to members affected by today’s announcement to better understand what next steps they may want the Association to take in response to this offer.

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.