The BMA has warned that a pay award for doctors in Scotland will do little to tackle serious issues of recruitment and retention.
Calling the offer ‘extremely disappointing’, BMA Scotland council chair Peter Bennie said that more should be done to make doctors feel valued and ensure that a medical career in Scotland was seen as attractive.
The Scottish Government announced on 30 August that salaried doctors and dentists who earned below £80,000 would receive a 3 per cent pay rise for the current financial year, backdated to 1 April 2018.
This differs from the offer in England, where the increase was not backdated, and means that doctors in Scotland will be earning more than their counterparts south of the border.
According to the Scottish Government, this equates to Scottish consultants earning up to £1,175 more (than in England); specialty doctors earning up to £1,105 more, and up to £534 extra for junior doctors.
Salaried doctors in Scotland who earn more than £80,000 (full-time equivalent) will have their pay rise capped at £1,600, while independent contractor GPs will receive a 3 per cent increase in earnings (compared to 2 per cent for GPs in England).
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said the agreement recognised the role played by doctors and dentists.
‘By offering fair pay increases we can help to support recruitment and retention of staff, encouraging health professionals to build their careers in Scotland’s NHS.'
But Dr Bennie said the increase would make little impact on the long-term trend that has seen real-terms reductions in pay rates of about 20 per cent across the profession over the last decade.
‘We recognise the Scottish Government has not mirrored the completely unacceptable decisions made by the Westminster Government on doctors' pay in England, particularly by rightly applying the award across the whole financial year,’ Dr Bennie said.
‘However, it is extremely disappointing and a cause of serious concern that consultants, who lead the frontline delivery of medical care in hospitals, have been singled out for a significantly lower pay award. Indeed, apart from junior doctors, all sections of the profession have effectively received an award below the independent recommendations of the pay review body, which is simply not good enough. Everything possible should be being done to make doctors feel valued and ensure that working in Scotland is as attractive as possible across all stages of a doctor's career.'
He said it was a further blow to consultants that the Scottish Government had refused to increase the value of Discretionary Points and Distinction Awards, an integral part of the consultant contract, counter to the recommendations of the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Body.
‘We have all seen the effects that an understaffed system which struggles to recruit and then retain doctors at all stages of their career has on the quality of care that is provided for patients. Indeed, nearly 90 per cent of doctors who responded to our recent survey said there simply were not enough doctors to provide quality care.
‘That is why we so desperately need much more, long term work done to begin to reverse the significant real terms fall in doctors' pay over recent years. The Scottish Government needs to urgently match the BMA's commitment to making working as a doctor in Scotland the really attractive career choice we all want it to be.’
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