NHS staff must get the pay they deserve, warns BMA ahead of Labour’s Pay Award Bill 

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Tuesday 13 April 2021

Almost 1500 doctors and members of the public have written to their local MP1 calling for better pay for senior hospital doctors following the Launch of the BMA’s Fairness on the Frontline campaign in March. The doctor’s union is calling for doctors and NHS staff to get the pay increase they deserve after the ‘woefully inadequate’ recommendation from the Government of a 1% pay settlement. 

With Labour’s NHS Pay Award Bill being presented by Carolyn Harris MP in the House of Commons tomorrow, the Association says that the Government must listen to the voices of hardworking doctors, NHS staff and the public who support a pay rise. This comes as NHS workers continue to care for those with COVID-19 as well as treating the millions on waiting lists – the largest ever backlog of care the NHS has known.  

A survey commissioned by the BMA in March2 also found that 60% of the public felt that the country's doctors should get a pay rise in recognition of the risks they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly three-quarters believing such a rise should be between 3% - 5% or more. 

Dr Rob Harwood, BMA consultants committee chair, said: 

“This Bill could be an important opportunity to bring a renewed focus to the importance of giving a pay rise to hardworking doctors and NHS staff who have gone to incredible efforts in the past year. The overwhelming response to our campaign and sheer number of those writing to their MPs calling for a pay rise shows the strength of feeling that the 1% proposed by the Government is nowhere near good enough.   

“The past 14 months have taken an enormous toll on the wellbeing of frontline staff, and with the largest backlog of care ever to contend with in the NHS’ history, doctors and NHS staff deserve at the very least, to be fairly rewarded for their contribution.  

We believe that 5% is a fair pay rise for hospital consultants in England - some of the country’s most experienced doctors - who have demonstrated incredible leadership and clinical excellence over the past year and who will continue to steer the ship in the challenging years ahead.  

“The Government must not take NHS staff for granted and brush this issue under the carpet. They must instead listen to the voices of doctors, NHS staff and the public who believe that a fair and well-deserved pay rise is the only way forward.” 


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. For more detail about our campaign, click here  
  1. BritainThinks surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,102 members of the UK public aged 18+ online on the 24th and 25th February 2021: 

The Chancellor has announced a partial public sector pay freeze in England. However, this will not apply to NHS doctors who will still receive a pay rise in 2021. A decision on the exact increase amount will be taken in early summer 2021. Which of the following best describes your view on how, if at all, doctors’ salaries should change? 

Doctors should get a pay increase: 62% 
Doctors should not get a pay increase: 19% 
Don’t know: 18% 

You said you think that doctors should get a pay rise. If you were to put a figure on this pay increase do you believe it should be: 
(Base: All respondents who think doctors should get a pay increase – n= 1,310) 

Below 1%: 1% 
1-2%: 13% 
3-5%: 35% 
6-10%: 23% 
11-15%: 6% 
16% or more: 8% 
Don’t know: 16%