Doctors deserve equal pay rises, says BMA

by Tim Tonkin

The Government must recognise and fairly remunerate all doctors for their efforts during the COVID-19 crisis, the BMA has warned health secretary Matt Hancock.

Location: UK
Last reviewed: 29 July 2020
slip of pay

Doctors from all branches of practice deserve equal recognition and reward for their tireless contributions during the pandemic, the association has insisted, following anger over unequal pay increases announced in the latest Doctors and Dentists Review Body pay recommendations.

Ministers announced pay awards for doctors in England on 21 July confirming that consultants and staff grade, associate specialist and specialty doctors would receive uplifts of 2.8 per cent.

GP principals and junior doctors, who receive fixed multi-year pay awards as a result of pre-pandemic contractual agreements, were however left ‘incensed’ at receiving lower salary increases, which the BMA GPs committee and BMA junior doctors committee said failed to recognise the vital contributions made by these two groups of doctors.

Unfair

In a letter to Mr Hancock, JDC chair Sarah Hallett and GPC chair Richard Vautrey say the decision to not increase juniors’ and GPs’ pay awards was ‘completely unfair’ and call for the Government to bring this increase in line with other branches of the medical profession.

They say: ‘Throughout the pandemic all doctors, including GPs and junior doctors, have worked tirelessly and flexibly with many working in new areas using new technology and equipment often under different and longer hours.

‘GP principals and junior doctors are subject to existing pay awards which increase salaries by a significantly lower percentage. It is completely unfair that they be denied recognition of their work during the COVID-19 pandemic by virtue of agreeing in good faith to these multi-year pay awards, and in the case of GP principals, facing an additional financial penalty as the shortfall for the pay increase for their staff has not been provided.’

They add: ‘We are, therefore, calling on Government to address this clear imbalance by bringing both GP principals and junior doctors pay in line with the latest pay award, and by doing so, publicly recognise the vitally important contribution these doctors have made, and continue to make, at this unprecedented time.’

Borderline awards

The disparity in pay awards to doctors in England contrasts with decisions taken in Scotland and Wales, where ministers announced all doctors would receive a 2.8 per cent pay uplift in light of their efforts during the pandemic.

BMA consultants committee chair Rob Hardwood said the Government has failed to recognise consultants' contributions in the fight against COVID-19 despite the pay rise.

In a news letter to members, he said: 'Many consultants have had to work without adequate protection, have demonstrated unbelievable resilience and determination, have had to go without seeing their families for long periods of time, and used their goodwill to keep working long hours, often unpaid.'

In their letter, Dr Hallett and Dr Vautrey also call for the ‘immediate release’ of the COVID-19 national fund, which was announced at the beginning of the pandemic as a means of reimbursing GP practices incurring additional expenses as a result of the outbreak.