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Doctors' anger at pay snub

BMA chief says doctors ‘outraged’ at government decision to deny 1% pay lift

Mark Gould

Monday, 24 March 2014

In a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, Dr Mark Porter the chair of the BMA Council told him that doctors felt "a deep sense of outrage" at the decision of the Department of Health not to implement the recommendation of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) for a 1% uplift in basic pay.

Dr Porter told him a 1% uplift "would still have represented a cut in real pay", given that Consumer Price Index inflation is in the region of 2% and Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation is closer to 3%. He also pointed to the private sector where pay settlements were around 2.5% in 2013, and are expected to remain at similar levels in 2014.

"Your deliberate conflation of pay progression and cost-of-living uplift is particularly misplaced," he wrote. "Pay progression is required to recognise learning and development in a role. Doctors gain more experience and responsibility over time and incremental progression arrangements for consultants, in particular, is a measure to control costs, building in a series of extended periods before they reach the full rate for the job."

He also drew attention to Mr Hunt's ministerial colleagues in the Home Office, who when introducing a pay review body for police officers, said that pay review bodies go to great lengths to gain a detailed understanding of the group that they cover and that the pay review body approach provides a more rounded, well-reasoned approach to deciding pay.

"Your failure, therefore, to take account of both the analysis and the recommendations of the DDRB is particularly frustrating," he concludes.

A Department of Health spokesman said that implementing the DDRB recommendation would cost £450m. "That's the equivalent of 14,000 new nurses, and would put at risk the safe, compassionate care that we are committed to.

"The health secretary has made it clear that his door is open to agree alternative proposals on pay providing we can continue to protect the front line."

The Scottish government has said it will adopt the NHS pay review body's recommendations in full, meaning that all NHS staff in Scotland will receive the 1% pay rise.

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