Doctors get set to battle with NHS on pay

20 Sep 01
NHS managers are on course for another row with doctors as the opening shots in next year's pay round were fired this week.

21 September 2001

The NHS Confederation proposed a 'modest increase' just above the rate of inflation for all staff in its submission to the independent pay review bodies. The current inflation rate (the retail price index excluding mortgage inflation) is 2.6%.

But the British Medical Association insisted that at least a 5% rise was necessary to maintain doctors' earnings relative to other professions. A 15% increase was needed to make up the difference with similar professions and to clear a shortfall in pension benefits.

The confederation's position will anger an increasingly belligerent medical profession at a time when the managers' organisation is locked in negotiations with the BMA over the new GP contract.

Stephen Thornton, the confederation's chief executive, said the announcement of modest pay rises for next year would give the review bodies some breathing space. He added that the review bodies could then implement long-term pay deals as part of a more 'mature' approach to determining pay awards.

'If the NHS is going to be able to recruit and retain the staff it needs, we must be clear about what drives people to join or remain in the NHS and the importance that pay plays in these decisions,' he said.

This week the Royal College of Nursing claimed a rise of at least 11% was necessary to stop an exodus from the profession. General secretary Beverly Malone described current pay levels as 'pathetic'.


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