Pay-lift denial 'appalling'

by Tim Tonkin

BMA writes to health secretary to demand discussions about remuneration 

Location: UK
Published: Monday 5 June 2023
Ujjwala Mohite

Excluding SAS doctors from annual pay uplifts could see staff ‘goodwill soon run out’, the BMA has warned health secretary Steve Barclay. 

The association’s specialist, associate specialist and specialty doctors committee has today written to Mr Barclay calling for urgent talks, stating that the Government’s two-year-running decision to deny doctors on the 2021 SAS contracts from pay uplifts amounted to ‘appalling treatment’. 

The letter comes after SAS doctors overwhelmingly endorsed a motion at their annual conference on 23 May for the BMA to ballot members in England over whether to take industrial action to secure pay restoration. 

In her letter to Mr Barclay, SASC UK chair Ujjwala Mohite warns that, despite going above and beyond for the health service, SAS doctors had seen their real-terms pay fall by a quarter in the last 15 years. 

She adds that while the association had been highly critical of the below-inflation 4.5 per cent uplift awarded last year to SAS doctors on the pre-2021 contracts, the Government’s refusal to extend this to those on the 2021 contracts had compounded the already poor morale of SAS staff. 


'Above and beyond'

She writes: ‘SAS doctors have gone above and beyond to help reduce record waiting lists in a system that is under-resourced and under-staffed. Despite this the Government has continually failed to recognise and reward SAS doctors accordingly and they have seen their real-terms pay fall by a quarter over the last 15 years. 

‘The lack of recognition, higher levels of bullying and, in some cases, being denied the development opportunities afforded to other clinicians, has degraded the morale of SAS doctors. These feelings ... were further compounded by the Government’s decision, for the second time in a row, to exclude SAS doctors in England on the new 2021 contract from the [pay] uplifts awarded to the rest of the profession. 

‘It is imperative the Government does not repeat this appalling treatment and all SAS doctors are included in at least inflationary pay uplifts that the Government announces following the recommendations of the DDRB. Anything else will add insult to injury and show a complete disregard for the crucial role SAS doctors play in keeping the NHS running.’ 

In her letter Dr Mohite adds: ‘SAS doctors have quietly borne the brunt of working through enormous backlogs of care made worse by the pandemic, but without urgent steps to ensure they feel appreciated, their patience and goodwill will soon run out.’  

Doctors joining the 2021 specialty doctor and specialist doctor contracts have not been included in annual pay uplifts, with the Government citing that the contracts are separate to recommendations made by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration because they include a multi-year pay deal. 

However, the BMA has argued that this decision must be reconsidered in light of the current inflation rate of 10 per cent and an associated cost of living crisis.  

To find out more and to read the letter in full, click here