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Call to reform pay-review process

Health secretary
Health secretary Matthew Hancock

The BMA has called for fundamental reform of the pay-review process for doctors and dentists.

In a joint statement to the health secretary Matthew Hancock, the BMA and British Dental Association warn that confidence in the independence and effectiveness of the DDRB (Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration) has been destroyed by the interference of successive governments, with the review process ‘no longer acceptable’ to doctors.

The letter follows a BMA survey of almost 13,000 doctors in England earlier this year which found that nearly three quarters described the Government's pay offer as highly unacceptable.

As a result of the offer, the vast majority of respondents stated that the value they feel working as doctors in the NHS was reduced (88.1 per cent) and similarly the majority of respondents stated that their level of morale has worsened (84.8 per cent).

In its letter, the BMA calls for restitution of the DDRB’s independence and return to its original purpose of making recommendations on pay rather than on ‘wider contractual matters’ and ensure that the Government no longer seeks to restrict or influence the review body’s recommendations.


Participation in question

The association also advises that the DDRB sets ‘clear timetables’ on submitting evidence and publishing reports, and that recommendations on pay be respected and implemented.

Setting a deadline of 12 weeks for a response, the BMA has warned that, unless its requirements are met, it will consult its national councils and committees about the association’s future engagement and participation in the DDRB.

In July, the Government announced its pay deal for doctors in England and, in doing so, ignored recommendations from the DDRB:

  • Junior doctors will receive just 2 per cent increase
  • SAS doctors will receive just 3 per cent increase
  • Consultants will receive just 1.5 per cent increase, plus 0.5 per cent related to clinical excellence awards
  • GPs will receive just 2 per cent, plus potentially a further 1 per cent related to contract negotiations.

These increases come into effect in October 2018 (with the exception of the GP increase) and will not be backdated to April 2018, essentially halving their value.

The settlement was in contrast to the DDRB’s report which had recommended a 2 per cent increase for juniors and consultants, and 3.5 per cent and 4 per cent increases for staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors and GPs respectively.

Speaking at the time, BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul warned that doctors had seen the largest drop in earnings of all professions subject to pay review bodies over the past decade, a fact which continued to negatively impact staff morale in the NHS.


The devolved nations

Government pay review for Scotland 2018/19

The Scottish Government announced its pay award for doctors in Scotland at the following rates:

  • 3% increase to the national salary scales for all doctors who earn below £80,000 (full-time equivalent)
  • 3% increase to medical practice staff pay and an uplift of 3% for non-staff expenses
  • £1,600 for medical staff earning above £80,000 (full-time equivalent)
  • 3% for all junior doctors
  • 3% for all Specialty Doctors and Associate Specialists who earn below £80,000 (full-time equivalent)
  • 3% for all salaried General Medical Practitioners who earn below £80,000 (full-time equivalent)
  • Distinction Awards and Discretionary Points remain frozen
  • These changes will be backdated to 1 April 2018.


Government pay review for Wales 2018/19

The Welsh Government announced its pay award for doctors in Wales at the following rates:

  • A 2% base increase for salaried doctors (including Clinical Excellence Awards) and dentists, salaried General Medical Practitioners (GMPs) and independent contractor GMPs (net of expenses)
  • An increase in the GMPs trainers' grant and rate for GMP appraisers of two per cent
  • An additional two per cent for independent contractor GMPs (net of expenses), salaried GMPs and to the GMP trainers' grant and the GMP appraisers' rate
  • An additional 1.5% for SAS doctors
  • These changes will be backdated to 1 April 2018.

No uplift has been announced for Northern Ireland yet.

Read more about the BMA’s position on the DDRB

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