I wanted to share with you the deep disappointment that I feel, and I believe you will share, following news of the Government’s pay award for doctors in England. While ministers are celebrating a headline figure of 3%, quite a lot of SAS doctors may find that they will lose out, nevertheless.
For those on the old 2008 specialty doctor contract, associate specialists and staff grade doctors, our expectation is that they will receive the full 3% uplift, as the DDRB (the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration) has recommended. However, with inflation currently predicted to increase to close to 4% later this year, this will still be seen by many as a real-terms pay cut.
Worse still is the Government’s unwillingness to reward those SAS doctors who choose to transfer to the new contracts for their contributions to the pandemic response – despite the DDRB recommending that they be recognised.
This means some on the new contracts won’t receive an equivalent of the uplift being offered to others. This is simply unacceptable. Throughout the past 18 months of the COVID pandemic, SAS doctors have put in an extraordinary amount of effort. Their hard work, dedication and sacrifice have been pivotal in helping the NHS manage one of the worst events in its history.
Despite the benefits that the new contracts bring, I would have hoped that the Government would have taken the opportunity to properly recognise the efforts of all SAS doctors during the pandemic, as this was outside the scope of these negotiations.
Whether they choose to move to the new contract or not, we would expect all SAS doctors to receive a pay uplift of at least 3% regardless of where they are on the pay scale, and this is something we will be calling upon Government to review and reconsider in the coming days.
Rajesh Kumar is chair of the BMA SAS (staff, associate specialist and specialty) doctors committee