You will be aware that our coalition government has decided to ignore the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) recommendations on doctors’ pay published earlier this month. The DDRB view is that all doctors should receive a 1% consolidated pay increase for 2014/15, on top of any automatic increment. Whilst this is well below the current cost of living and comes on the back of several years of pay decline for doctors, this was their independent recommendation. The DDRB take evidence and soundings for many months leading up to the publication of the recommendations and the expectation of the public and the profession is that they should be implemented. The Government, yet again, had other ideas. They have rejected the recommendations, insisting that only doctors who are not eligible to receive incremental pay will be given a 1% non-consolidated payment in 2014/15, as the others will receive an increase through incremental progression. In his ministerial statement, Secretary of State Jeremy Hunt said:
"The DDRB’s recommendations for a 1% consolidated rise for all staff, on top of automatic increments, are unaffordable and would risk the quality of patient care. Without a pay rise, incremental pay increases already commit nearly £1billion every year for all NHS employees and add 2% each year to the NHS pay bill for employed doctors and dentists. The DDRB proposals suggest a pay rise that would risk reductions in front line staff that could lead to unsafe patient care. It is not possible to maintain appropriate numbers of front line staff, give a general pay rise of 1% and pay for incremental progression."
Whilst we understand the financial issues affecting the NHS, we categorically reject the idea that the payment of increments will lead to less front line staff and unsafe patient care. Increments are paid as doctors attain the skills, knowledge and experience to reach to top of their profession, learning as they progress to provide the best care possible for their patients. This approach to remuneration represents another attack on hard working doctors who have already seen pay stagnant for years whilst pension contributions increase with another 1.2% increase this April, and morale at rock bottom.
The HCSA executive committee has agreed that we must campaign hard on this issue, and work with other unions and professional bodies to get our message across. We believe that the views expressed by Jeremy Hunt are unacceptable, and that the decision should be contested. We want to hear your thoughts, and our next step is to take soundings on what action you would want the HCSA to take. Please send your comments to the HCSA Chief Executive Eddie Saville at firstname.lastname@example.org by the 20 April 2014, as this matter will be discussed at the HCSA Council meeting to be held on 25 April. We will be updating you after the meeting to confirm our position, and to finalise our plan of action.
John Schofield - President