'COVID-related' pay rise for doctors a 'slap in the face'

  • Nicky Broyd, Medscape.com

  • UK Medical News
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Many doctors and dentists across the UK are getting an above-inflation 2.8% pay rise this year to recognise work on the COVID-19 front line.

It follows full acceptance of the latest recommendations from the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration (DDRB). The rise is backdated to April.

However, the BMA has described the increase as "a metaphorical slap in the face".

What It's Worth

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said in a statement: "These past months have underlined what we always knew – that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them.

"It’s right therefore that we follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies with this set of real-terms pay rises."

The Department for Health and Social Care said that for basic pay the award is worth:

  • £2200 to £3000 for consultants

  • £1100 to £2100 for specialty doctors

  • £1500 to £2600 for associate specialists

Junior doctors get an annual basic uplift of 2%, and the minimum and maximum pay ranges for salaried GPs are increased by 2.8% under existing multi-year pay deals.

The Treasury said nurses still moving up their pay scale will get an average 4.4% rise.

'Bitterly Disappointed'

In a statement, the Chair of the BMA Consultants Committee, Dr Rob Harwood, said: "For weeks the public has shown its appreciation for NHS and social care staff; the DDRB should have done the same and recommended that doctors were given the remuneration they so rightly deserve. Instead, doctors have been given a metaphorical slap in the face.

"The Government has put billions of pounds into business and industry to help keep the economy afloat during this pandemic but today it has shown it is not willing to do the same for those on the front line of this pandemic. This uplift means, for many, their take-home pay rises between just £15 and £24 per week and doctors quite rightly should be bitterly disappointed and may even be insulted by today’s news particularly given the sacrifices they have made.

"Many of the most highly skilled doctors in the NHS have seen their pay whittled away year-on-year with minimal or no pay rises – with many having suffered a 30% real-terms pay cut over the last decade. This was the perfect opportunity for the Government to show it values our doctors and give them the pay they deserve."

Dentists' Reaction

British Dental Association Vice Chair Eddie Crouch commented: "These are difficult times for colleagues, and that NHS dentists aren't being handed another pay cut will offer some comfort.

“Before COVID-19 hit years of pay restraint had already taken their toll. Above inflation increases are starting to repair that damage, and now must be pursued in tandem with other needed action to keep this service afloat."

More GP Trainees

Figures for GP trainee numbers in England were also published today showing a 15% rise.

Health Education England said there have been 3441 acceptances onto GP speciality training in 2020, compared to 2891 at the same stage in 2019 with one more recruitment round still to go.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the new trainees "will ensure a pipeline of talent for the future and help us deliver an extra 50 million appointments a year for patients as well as 6000 more doctors in general practice."

Adapted from Medscape UK.