Pay uplift for doctors fails to recognise or remedy their pay cuts in real terms, says BMA

by BMA media team

BMA press release.

Location: England
Published: Thursday 13 July 2023

Responding to today’s recommendation from the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) and the Government’s acceptance of that recommendation, the BMA says that far from putting an end to ongoing strikes, this further real terms cut to doctors pay demonstrates exactly why doctors feel they have no choice but to take industrial action. The BMA Chair of Council, Professor Phil Banfield said:

“This offer is exactly why so many doctors are feeling they have no option but to take industrial action as they have suffered years of below-inflation pay awards and once again the Government and the DDRB have both failed to address that in this year’s uplift.     

“Today’s announcement represents yet another pay cut in real terms and serves only to increase the losses faced by doctors after more than a decade’s worth of sub-inflation pay awards. It completely ignores the BMA’s calls to value doctors for their expertise by full pay restoration to 2008/2009 levels.

“With an NHS in crisis – seven and a half million patients on waiting lists, chronic underfunding and doctors being directly targeted with offers of work in Australia -  this Government should not be supporting pay uplifts which don’t reverse years of sub inflation pay awards. The narrative that public sector pay fuels inflation has been discredited by economists. Public sector workers are not only working in underfunded services, but they are now being asked to pay for them through further cuts and proposed increased visa costs. The political choices this Government is making continue to make ordinary people sicker and poorer; that is an unconscionable position for a ‘civilised’ society to be in. 

“Doctors have long lost all confidence in the supposed independence of the pay review body. Ministers have known these details for weeks and allowed junior doctors to continue to strike without putting this offer to them as part of negotiations. This was disingenuous, showing total disregard for both doctors and patients, and demonstrated how little they care about wanting to bring an end to the industrial action. This is in complete contrast to the Government in Scotland, who has negotiated in good faith with junior doctors there. This Government made such a fuss about junior doctors declining 5% as not being a credible offer knowing throughout that the pay review body recommendation was higher.  However, this dispute is not about a pay rise, but restoring the value of pay. 

“Furthermore, it does nothing to address the rising costs and workloads crippling general practice currently. The costs for running practices have risen significantly and the pay uplift for sessional GPs is far below what is needed and practices still need significant investment to be able to provide safe patient care.

“The BMA will continue to fight for the full restoration of pay lost since 2008, and reform of the pay review bodies; that includes the further losses delivered through this announcement. This Government is driving doctors away from the NHS and this country; it needs to wake up and realise the true cost of keeping the expertise of doctors. Today, it missed a huge opportunity to put a credible proposal on the table to end strikes. This uplift still fails tens of thousands of frontline staff and is unlikely to do much to help retain a beleaguered, burnt out, undervalued workforce. The failure to address year on year sub-inflation awards to consultants as well as  juniors. Consultants remain willing to talk, but this offer, and the absence of the Government entering into talks with them, means, like juniors in England, they are likely to continue to take industrial action. It’s highly likely that other groups of doctors we represent will also consider their next steps. I implore the Prime Minister not to become the roadblock to a deal by refusing all further talks. Doctors remain ready to continue to negotiate if the Prime Minister is willing”.


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.