Union brands specialist doctors’ pay exclusion ‘gross injustice’

Some specialist doctors in England have been excluded from annual pay rises owing to a “gross injustice”, the British Medical Association (BMA) said.

Annual rises have been prohibited twice for some specialist, associate specialist and speciality (SAS) doctors employed on 2021 contracts.

This was on the recommendation of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB), which advises the Government on rates of pay for doctors and dentists.

According to the BMA, the Government has previously said those employed on 2021 contracts are outside of the DDRB’s remit as they were drawn up as part of a multi-year pay deal.

However, the union said the Government is “refusing to acknowledge” the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on doctors employed under those contracts.

SAS doctors on pre-2021 contracts were given a 4.5% pay rise in 2022 but now the BMA wants all specialist doctors included and said wage rises should “properly reflect the value of these professionals by being in line with inflation”.

In a letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, Dr Ujjwala Anand Mohite, chairwoman of the BMA’s SAS committee, said the Government has “continually failed to recognise and reward SAS doctors accordingly” and members feel they are “constantly being ignored or dismissed”.

She added: “This is despite SAS doctors making up an essential part of the NHS workforce and the warnings from the DDRB themselves cautioning that a decision to not apply an award to groups subject to a pay deal will have a ‘significant effect on motivation, affecting retention, productivity and ultimately patient care’.

“It is imperative that the Government does not repeat this appalling treatment and that all SAS doctors are included in at least inflationary pay uplifts the Government announces following the recommendations of the DDRB.

“Anything else will add insult to injury and show a complete disregard for the crucial role SAS doctors play in keeping the NHS running.”