NHS doctors and dentists should only receive a pay rise of up to 2% in 2009, says NHS Employers.
In the current financial climate, the right balance is needed between fairness to staff and affordability, it argues in its submission to the Doctors and Dentists Review Body, out today.
As inflation rises and trusts come under pressure to tighten their belts on efficiency, both will put a squeeze on services, it says. The addition of unfunded cost pressures from pay, which take up the majority of NHS budgets, could threaten care of patients.
But for a 2% award to be affordable, there must be a corresponding uplift in the funding allocation for 2009/10, says NHS Employers.
It has also called for the General Dental Services contract to stay the same, following an increase in the 2008/09 award (recommended 3.4%) and with falling expenses for dental practices.
‘Employers are sympathetic to the difficulties that staff are facing in the current economic climate, but unaffordable increases would potentially risk pushing costs too far – as well as damaging service delivery and service improvements - and would not be helpful to staff in the longer term,’ said Gill Bellord, director of pay, pensions and employment relations.
A balance has to be struck on fairness for patients, fairness for staff and fairness for the taxpayer, and we believe 2% strikes an appropriate balance, while being affordable to the service.’
She added that employers were keeping reward packages attractive for NHS staff with final salary pension schemes, training and development and flexible working arrangements.
‘We believe that the whole employment reward package is paying dividends. Recruitment and retention is reasonably stable, morale and motivation are improving and services to patients are benefiting as a result. It would be wrong to jeopardise such encouraging progress with unaffordable pay increases.’
Last week, the Public Accounts Committee report found that the revised GP contract had lead to huge pay increases for GP partners but a decrease in productivity and working hours in primary care since its introduction in 2003 until 2006.