The recommendations of the AFPRB (Armed Forces Pay Review Body) 50th report amount to a real-terms pay cut for the armed forces doctors and dentists who, like their NHS colleagues, have contributed so much and made extraordinary sacrifices in the fight against COVID. Yet, unlike these colleagues, will receive no award for their efforts.
A pay freeze for those earning more than £24,000, paired with increased charges for accommodation and the current rate of inflation, will mean that our members have essentially paid for the role they played in the pandemic out of their own pockets.
While the BMA believes the 3% pay award applied to civilian doctors in the NHS (including consultants and salaried GPs) was insufficient, the total lack of recognition of the role of uniformed doctors and dentists can only be regarded as demeaning their efforts.
Uniformed doctors and dentists have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic – whether serving side-by-side with doctors in NHS settings, or in defence primary healthcare and single service medical units. Leading the acceleration of the national vaccination programme, or playing a crucial role in the establishment of the Nightingale hospitals – both at home and overseas.
However, it would appear their hard work and dedication have counted for naught.
The AFPRB report acknowledges the outstanding work of uniformed doctors and dentists, the risks around DMS staffing levels, and the challenges posed through the pandemic. Yet they offer no meaningful recognition for contributions made or threats faced.
While described as an independent pay review body, the AFPRB has evidently felt constrained by the Government’s directions and simply accepted their imposed pay restraint, rather than behaving with independence. We engaged with the pay review process in good faith; we leave it feeling our evidence has been ignored.
Uniformed doctors and dentists have been denied parity with their civilian colleagues. The lack of a pay offer is not only inadequate but fundamentally unfair, and runs counter to the principles of the armed forces covenant.
The BMA and BDA will work together to consider what next steps should be taken to ensure our members are compensated for the contributions they make, rather than penalised for the commissions they hold and the uniforms they wear.
BMA council chair
BDA principal executive committee chair