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BMA's evidence to the DDRB on doctors' pay


Each year in Autumn, the BMA submit detailed evidence and recommendations on pay for doctors' across the UK, for the Doctor and Dentist's Review Body (DDRB) pay review the following year.


BMA evidence for 2017/18 pay review

We submitted evidence to the DDRB for the 2017/18 pay review in September 2016.

The key arguments in our submission highlight that:

  • The British Medical Association (BMA) is submitting evidence for the whole of the UK, and is seeking a common recommendation for all doctors, though we note an increasing divergence between the four constituent UK nations. We ask that DDRB continues to assert its independence to make a full set of recommendations, irrespective of any remit that a constituent health department might seek to impose.

  • We are not proposing a specific figure for the 2017/18 pay award, but we argue that doctors should be treated in line with the wider economy, where pay settlements continue to run at higher than the public sector pay policy cap, at around 2% currently.

  • We do not support targeted recommendations to address location or specialty recruitment issues, and we do not wish DDRB to pursue its suggestion of applying funds to different approaches than pay to alleviating pressures – unless there was a substantial increase to the overall funding availability. We do however note that previous DDRB recommendations around distinction awards in Scotland, GP earnings in Wales, and clinical excellence awards in Northern Ireland, have not been implemented by the respective governments.

  • The financial distress of the NHS, and the lack of credible plans to increase capacity will further worsen recruitment and retention issues, and create real concerns around the health and wellbeing of the remaining doctors as a result of their increased yet unrecognised workload, and their lack of time and empowerment to be able to contribute to sustainable solutions.

  • We note the remit letter from England asks DDRB for observations around salaried GPs. We believe there is a significant lack of data currently available around sessional GPs (salaried and locum) on which to base any firm recommendations, for example around pay ranges, and how GPs choose to take a partnership, salaried or locums post. We request that DDRB considers who is able to provide what data with a view to a more in-depth analysis in next year’s pay round.

  • In general, we note there is a lack of data around how doctors choose their career paths, both in terms of specialty and location, but also in terms of choice between a permanent role or locum position. We hypothesise that the increased attractiveness of a locum role reflects the seeming low value and ever-increasing unrecognised workload of permanent positions. The recent moves to advertise Staff, Associate Specialist and Specialty doctor (SAS) roles at the closed Associate Specialist (AS) grade are also a reflection of this recruitment and retention issue.


BMA evidence

Download the BMA evidence documents from September 2016

BMA evidence (PDF)

Annex - NHS funding briefing (PDF)

Annex - SRM 2016 workforce briefing (PDF)


Comment from BMA council chair

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chairCommenting on our evidence to the DDRB on doctors' pay, BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter said:

"Doctors have seen their pay steadily eroded year on year at the same time as being asked to work longer hours in an overstretched, under-resourced health service. The government is facing a £30bn hole in its budget. It has decided to tackle this, in part, through arbitrary restrictions on the pay of health care professionals working hard to keeping the NHS afloat. This has had an inevitable knock-on effect on staff morale, which is plummeting, and the recruitment and retention of key staff. Vital parts of our health service, such as accident and emergency departments and general practice, are facing critical shortages of staff that is damaging the delivery of patient care.

"A valued, motivated workforce is key to ensuring the NHS continues to deliver a world class service for patients. The government needs to listen to views of frontline NHS workers and give them an appropriate pay settlement that recognises their work in delivering high-quality patient care in increasingly difficult circumstances."


DDRB recommendations for 2017/18 pay review

The DDRB are expected to complete their review in March 2017, when they will make recommendations to the UK governments.


Who is the DDRB and what do they do?

Pay for doctors and dentists holding posts in the NHS on nationally agreed terms and conditions of service is considered annually by the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB).

The DDRB is an independent body which makes its recommendations directly to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health, and their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Various parties, including the Department of Health in England, the Welsh Government, NHS England, NHS Employers, and the BMA and BDA have sent their written evidence to the DDRB this September. The Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland department of health have not yet submitted their evidence for the 2017/18 round. Oral evidence sessions will be held with these parties between November 2016 and February 2017.

The DDRB usually reports to the Prime Minister in February or March the following year and the report is made public with the government's decision a few weeks later, for implementation on the following 1 April.

Find out more about the DDRB

Find out how doctors' pay is decided