BMA Scotland responds to pay award

by BMA Scotland media team

Press release from BMA Scotland

Location: Scotland
Published: Monday 3 July 2023

Reacting to today’s pay award from the Scottish Government, BMA Scotland Chair Dr Iain Kennedy said:

“This is another massively disappointing pay uplift for Scottish doctors. With RPI inflation running at 11.3% according to the latest figures – it amounts to a significant pay cut which will be another kick in the teeth to doctors working incredibly hard at all levels and across both hospitals and GP practices to keep desperately struggling services afloat.

“We have long warned that the NHS in Scotland is running on the goodwill of staff alone. It is now beyond doubt that this well of goodwill ran dry a long time ago.

“This year BMA Scotland called for a significant pay uplift in 2023/24 for all doctors, to not only address the severe risk to real terms pay posed by high inflation but also start to restore pay erosion since 2008. This was based on the urgent need to do more to retain doctors at all stages of our careers and take immediate action to tackle the doctor workforce crisis we face.

“Indeed, the doctor shortage has been at least 15 years in the making, during which time doctors in Scotland have experienced real terms pay detriment, with repeated pay freezes, pay caps and sub inflation pay uplifts, all at a time when inflation has run much higher, and workload has risen.

“If doctors’ pay is to be restored to a reasonable level, year on year pay awards that are significantly above inflation are required. This award singularly fails to deliver on that necessity.

“Without these steps we’ll go on losing doctors who feel ignored and devalued, either to early retirement or to competitors abroad and at home who are actually willing to pay what we are worth as highly skilled professionals.

“We will likely be told that pay rises could only come at the expense of frontline services. But what could be more frontline than the doctors who actually deliver the care the people of Scotland need?

“Our doctor vacancy heatmaps and GP sustainability framework have shown that every area of Scotland is being impacted by doctor shortages already, with surveys showing many more plan to leave the UK or the profession altogether in the near future. We must get serious about this workforce crisis now – otherwise Scotland’s NHS workforce – already on its knees – simply won’t be there for us in the future.

“Although we are yet to see this year’s full DDRB report, our members in Scotland are also deeply concerned that the process is not working as it was intended to, and that it must improve. Our pay survey from last year reported that 88% of our members responding said they were dissatisfied when asked if the DDRB’s recommendation recognises their contribution to the NHS – I suspect this year will prompt a similarly concerned response from doctors who feel this system is just not working as it should.

“Our Junior doctors in Scotland have already demonstrated that the BMA is no longer prepared to stand by and accept this devaluing of our profession and they have already been looking at alternative pay review processes to put to Scottish Government as part of their current pay dispute. I know many other doctors share their anger, their appetite for action and their willingness to stand up for the future of Scotland’s NHS.

“As a result, we will now urgently consult all our BMA Scotland members to understand the strength of feeling which I am sure this award will cause. It will then be down to each individual part of the profession, from Consultants, Staff and Associate Specialist doctors, GPs and Junior doctors to decide next steps. Be in no doubt though, that the Scottish Government is now on warning and that no part of the medical profession is likely to view this pay award as anywhere near good enough.”

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.