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DDRB review ‘drives down real pay’

A portrait of BMA council chair Mark Porter.
PORTER: Doctors will be angered by the decision

Doctors leaders have accused the national pay review body of using its recommendations as ‘a cover’ for driving down frontline salaries.

The DDRB (the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration) report published today recommends a 1 per cent pay rise for frontline staff.

The pay review suggests the tiny uplift despite a cost of living rate of 2.3 per cent and staff seeing their incomes dropping – with morale also plummeting and demand soaring.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said doctors would be angered by the decision and called for the Government to address the ever-increasing shortfall in health and social care funding.

Dr Porter said: ‘Yet again the annual pay review is nothing other than a cover for driving down real pay in the health service.

The DDRB is recommending just a 1 per cent pay uplift for doctors, well below the current cost of living rise of 2.3 per cent. In real terms, doctors’ pay has sharply declined in the past five years, with junior doctors seeing their income drop by 17 per cent at a time when their morale has been badly hit by the Government’s mishandling of the new contract. Over the same period consultants have seen their pay drop by 14 per cent and GPs by 13 per cent.

‘Doctors will be angered by this apparent decision as it comes during a period when many are working harder than ever before in an environment of rising patient demand, stagnating budgets and staff shortages.

Hospital doctors and GPs are bearing the brunt of the funding crisis facing the NHS, and are choosing to leave. This is where rota gaps, consultant vacancies and closed GP practices start. While targeted incentives of the kind proposed in this report might sound positive, they do not ultimately address the serious overall problems that are widespread throughout the country. The health service needs a proper, long-term workforce plan and not piecemeal initiatives that offer only a short-term fix.

‘We will analyse the DDRB report in detail, but these initial indications will come as a bitter blow to a workforce already wondering whether the Government knows or cares about the demoralising effect of year-on-year pay cuts.’

Pay for doctors and dentists holding posts in the NHS on nationally agreed terms and conditions of service is considered annually by the DDRB.

It is an independent body which makes its recommendations directly to the prime minister and health secretary, and their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – although its parameters are set by the individual health departments and have increasingly followed public sector pay policy.

The BMA submitted evidence to the DDRB for the 2017/18 pay review in September last year.

It argued that doctors should be treated in line with the wider economy where pay settlement runs at higher than the current public sector policy cap.

The submissions also suggested that 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 well-being 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.

Read more: BMA evidence to the DDRB on doctors’ pay

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