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Doctors' pay in decline

Peter Bennie portrait serious
BENNIE: 'Doctors will be disappointed'

The BMA in Scotland has warned that doctors face a further real-terms pay cut that will do nothing to improve recruitment and retention.

The Scottish Government has announced that it is accepting the recommendations of the independent pay review bodies and will give employees earning above £22,000 a one per cent pay rise; GPs will also receive a one per cent pay uplift (net of expenses).

Health secretary Shona Robison said that the Scottish Government would continue to guarantee a living wage for all NHS staff, and would maintain its commitment to no compulsory redundancies.

‘This underlines the value we place on the hard-working men and women of Scotland’s health service,’ she added.

But BMA Scotland council chair Peter Bennie said the move would cause ‘widespread disappointment’.

He said: ‘The announcement that yet again the pay of doctors in Scotland will go up by just one per cent while the rate of inflation is at 2.3 per cent means that once again doctors pay will decline in real terms.

‘Repeated years of real terms cuts to doctors' pay have taken a substantial toll on incomes and do nothing to address the significant recruitment and retention difficulties across all grades of doctor.

'At a time when doctors' workloads are increasing like never before, there will be widespread disappointment and anger at the decision to continue this approach.’

Ms Robison said that she recognised that pay restraint had been difficult, but that it had to be seen in the context of ‘significant cuts’ to the Scottish budget.

‘NHS employees are the health service’s most valuable asset, and we value their contribution enormously,’ she said.

But BMA Scottish consultants committee chair Simon Barker said it was disappointing that the Scottish Government had decided not to implement the pay review body’s recommendation to increase the value of discretionary points and distinction awards, and end the freeze on new distinction awards.

‘The lack of discretionary point uplift and ongoing distinction award freeze give exactly the wrong message to a consultant workforce that has been delivering more and more, year on year, from an already inadequate budget,’ he said.

‘These long-standing elements of the defined pay structure for consultants are intended to recognise those who contribute most in the delivery of safe, high quality care to patients and to leading continuous improvement of NHS services.

‘We will never recruit and retain the specialists that our health service needs if we fail to recognise and reward their efforts.’

The changes should be implemented in time for April’s pay, the Scottish Government said.

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