Government’s below-inflation pay suggestion for consultants in England is an insult, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Last reviewed: 24 February 2022
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Responding to the Government’s evidence to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration (DDRB), which suggests a 2% pay increase for consultants in England this year, Dr Vishal Sharma, BMA consultants committee chair, said:

“After the two years that the medical profession has endured, in many cases quite literally putting their lives on the line to keep people safe during the pandemic, this paltry suggestion, that falls far below inflation, is an insult.

“The 3% award last year left consultants extremely disappointed, so for the Government to now suggest an even lower figure that once again fails to address years of pay erosion will be met with anger and absolute dismay. Ministers must wake up to the reality that in pursuing this approach they are setting the medical profession on course for an even deeper workforce crisis.

“Senior doctors are already being driven away due to punitive pension tax rules, exhaustion and plummeting morale, and now the Government is telling them that they should accept a real-terms pay cut too. Therefore ministers must urgently change course or more of our most experienced clinicians will be forced to retire or reduce their hours when patients need them the most.

“The Government’s argument that by restricting pay it allows them to hire more doctors is a hollow one. Without fair pay, England will be unable to hire and retain the doctors it needs. We hope that patients will be able to see straight through this false economy.

“More broadly, the Government’s evidence this year once again highlights how flawed the DDRB process is, with ministers intervening in a supposedly independent body’s decision making. This is precisely why the BMA’s consultants committee has disengaged from the process and not submitted evidence for consultants in England this year.

“In making its recommendations later this year, the DDRB must therefore resist this blatant manipulation from the Government. A sub-inflation pay recommendation would be the final straw in breaking any pretence of its independence or credibility.”

The Government’s evidence does not include GP contractors, junior doctors or some speciality or specialist grade doctors in England, who all are subject to multi-year pay agreements.

Dr Mike Kemp, BMA junior doctors committee co-chair, said:

“Once again, despite the efforts of junior doctors throughout the pandemic, when they have worked gruelling hours in high-risk and unfamiliar settings, and to the detriment of their training, the Government is seeing fit to tell them that they shouldn’t have their sacrifices recognised.

“Multi-year pay deals – such as those for junior doctors, GP partners and speciality and specialist grade doctors – were negotiated and agreed before the pandemic turned the working lives of these staff upside down. The terms of our agreement were that if circumstances changed that the DDRB could make further recommendations. Therefore, it is only right that any pay award reflects the additional contribution these doctors have made over the last two years and acknowledges rapidly rising inflation.

“If junior doctors are again excluded from deserved recognition of their efforts during the pandemic, it will be a shocking indictment of the Government’s priorities. It will send a clear message of just how little this key group of staff, and the very future of the expert medical workforce, are valued at a time when we need to recruit and retain as many staff as possible, while making a further mockery of the independent pay review body process.”

Ends

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.

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.