Our submission to the DDRB
The BMA has submitted its evidence to the DDRB’s 50th report for the year 2022/23. In it, we are calling for:
- a pay award of RPI + 2% as an initial step towards closing the real terms pay erosion that doctors have faced over the past decade
- the DDRB to recognise and reward all groups of doctors, including those working under contracts that are subject to multiple-year pay deals
- the DDRB to take into account and support the BMA’s efforts to address the devastating impact of the current pensions system and pensions taxation
- the DDRB to publish its report independently, rather than allowing it to be sat on by UK governments and published at a time that is politically convenient
- a range of asks specific to devolved nations and branches of practice.
Our submission has also highlighted ongoing issues relating to long-term erosion of pay, the pandemic response, its impact on staff wellbeing and morale, and wider impacts on recruitment, retention and motivation.
This year, for the first time, two of the BMA’s branches of practice – representing consultants and junior doctors in England – have chosen not to engage with the DDRB pay review process. They have reached this decision because they and the doctors they represent no longer have faith that the process is meaningfully independent and is subject to undue government interference. Instead, they have been lobbying for reform of the DDRB (see below) and developing strategy and engaging with membership to prepare for further action on pay throughout 2022/23.
We have written to the DDRB in response to the recent statement by the Prime Minister’s spokesperson about public sector pay and inflation.
Pay review reform
The BMA has longstanding concerns about the effectiveness and independence of the DDRB.
In the context of more than a decade of significant erosion of the value of doctors’ pay, which for some has reached an astonishing and unjustifiable 30% real decline in take-home pay since 2008/09, it is no surprise that our members have lost faith in the DDRB and the pay review process.
The DDRB’s position – that it is not within their remit to ‘undo past decision making’ – simply underscores our concerns about the extent to which the Review Body’s remit constrains them from making meaningfully independent recommendations on pay.
We have written to the Secretary of State for Health & Social Care calling for reform of the Review Body and its processes. We continue to ask how the DDRB can possibly demonstrate its independence when:
- their remit foregrounds health department expenditure limits and the government’s inflation targets
- government remit letters set arbitrary parameters - either explicit limits to possible increases in pay or emphasising budgetary constraints - that prevent the DDRB from making independent recommendations
- government remit letters are used to highlight economic context that should be confined to its own evidence submission
- the final reports can be held by governments indefinitely without being released to the profession
- the membership of the Review Body is selected solely by government
- the Review Body’s recommendations are in no way binding on government.
The BMA believes that there is an urgent need to reform the DDRB to restore it to its original purpose, autonomy, and authority.
Either it should return to its original remit, operating in accordance with the principles on which it was first established, or the Secretary of State should engage with the BMA to agree a new, fairer process for determining doctors’ pay which doctors once again trust.