THE British Medical Association (BMA) yesterday said it was astonished at the vindictive and petty treatment of consultants by the government awarding them a phased below inflation, pay rise.
The independent Doctors Dentists Review Body (DDRB) has recommended a pay award of 2.2 per cent for most doctors.
Staff and associate specialist grade doctors have been awarded 2.4 per cent.
However, the government has awarded consultants a phased ‘pay rise’ of one per cent until November 1st 2006 and then increased to 2.2 per cent for the rest of the financial year – resulting in an average annual award of 1.4 per cent.
Dr Paul Miller, Chairman of the BMA Consultants’ Committee, said: ‘I cannot believe the government has been so mean-minded.
‘This low pay rise will do very little to relieve NHS debt but will damage doctors’ goodwill enormously.
‘Doctors have worked tirelessly to meet government targets and deliver improvements in patient care, helping to bring waiting times down to record levels.
‘Hospital consultants have huge and complex workloads. They strive to innovate whilst facing unprecedented demands on their time and an intensity of work which is soaring.
‘It is deplorable that the DDRB recommendation has not been accepted by the government.
‘This slap in the face is a betrayal of senior hospital doctors and will alienate the profession at a time when the NHS is under enormous pressure.
‘It produces a saving of £20 million, this will do very little to ease the NHS debt crisis of around £900 million.’
Mr James Johnson, Chairman of the BMA, said: ‘It is shocking that the government has chosen to single out consultants in this way. It is like saying they are not as worthy as other doctors.
‘The government has lost far more today in goodwill than it has gained in salary costs.
‘We are two years away from the end of seven per cent real terms growth per year for the NHS. There are only two years left to sort out the mess which the NHS is currently in and what does the government do?
‘Punishing senior doctors is a crazy strategy for getting us to work with government on system reform, and at a time when we should be formulating an action plan to save the NHS.’
Johnson attacked the ‘blatant interference’ of Chancellor Brown in the independent Doctors and Dentists Review Body process.
He said: ‘After all evidence had been submitted to the DDRB from all parties. both the Health Secretary and the Chancellor subsequently suggested lower pay rises.’
Meanwhile, nurses have been awarded a ‘very disappointing’ 2.5 per cent ‘rise’.
Janet Davies, Director for Service Delivery at the Royal College of Nursing said: ‘Over the last month nurses have sent a clear message to government – a two per cent pay award was simply not enough.
‘Today’s announcement demonstrates that the Pay Review Body has retained its independence by recommending 2.5 per cent and that the government has recognised nurses’ strength of feeling on this issue by meeting the award in full.
‘However, at a time when utility bills continue to rocket and nurses are faced with council tax increases of 4.5 per cent, this award of just 0.1 per cent over inflation will be very disappointing to many nurses.
‘For a newly qualified staff nurse the award represents £474, less than £10 a week. It is not the substantial increase that nurses deserve.’