BMA's chief hospital consultant renews calls for a fair pay rise for doctors, many of whom have been left with 'moral injuries' as a result of the pandemic, the Association finds

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 19 May 2021

Speaking at the BMA’s annual Consultants Conference, the Chair of the BMA’s Consultants’ Committee will today tell the BMA that many doctors have been forced to act against their ‘moral compass’ during the pandemic, as he renews calls for a fair pay rise for doctors. 

The demand for a pay uplift of at least 5%, part of the BMA’s Fairness for the Frontline campaign1, will be front and centre of today’s Conference debates and Dr Rob Harwood will say that consultants have faced the pandemic ‘head on’, working long hours, sometimes without the correct or enough PPE, and seen their patients and colleagues die in unprecedented numbers.

He will also say: “We have been called heroes and received applause, but lofty rhetoric and claps can’t capture the reality of our situation. After all the clapping from the Cabinet, the Government’s proposal of a 1% pay rise was disappointing, mean-spirited and insulting - although not surprising.” 

Dr Rob Harwood will tell the annual BMA Consultants’ Conference that the psychological impact of being unable to do what they believe is right has been, ‘just too much’ and that, ‘some doctors have been left with moral injury’ as a result. He’ll say that despite their colossal efforts some are feeling – entirely inappropriately - that they have let their patients down. 

His insight comes from a series of interviews the BMA has undertaken with hospital consultants across England, which have revealed their feelings of moral injury and the distress it has brought. 

Dr Harwood will also say that amidst the ongoing effects of moral injury and the lowly pay offer, another very serious issue, ‘is becoming impossible to ignore any longer’ - a huge shortage in the number of consultants2. Dr Harwood will talk about the significant and increasing gaps on consultant work rotas as, together with an ageing population, the demand for consultant care continues to rise. He will say that the Government has been offered, ‘a stack of long and short-term solutions to this impending crisis but all need proper investment and an acknowledgement that consultants are human and therefore our human needs must be met which includes rest and recuperation.’

Dr Harwood will add, ‘at a time when consultants are needed more than ever, how can we allow them to be lost by a Government who doesn’t realise their true worth?’


Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association 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.

1. The BMA’s Fairness for the Frontline campaign is asking for a 5% pay uplift which it hopes will stop the projected exodus of talented consultants from the NHS. 

2. A BMA survey (April 2021) showed that up to 50% of doctors are planning on reducing their hours because of the pandemic, with 21% thinking of leaving the NHS completely.