Government won’t accept DDRB recommendations next yearBMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5058 (Published 06 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5058
The government has said that it will not take recommendations from the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) next year.
In a letter to the DDRB, Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, said that in 2015-16 the government intended to award all NHS staff a 1% increase to their pay.1 Earlier this year the DDRB recommended an increase in basic pay of 1% to the national salary scales for salaried doctors and dentists for 2014-15, and in March the government announced that in 2014-15 NHS staff and salaried doctors would receive a 1% pay increase. However, it said that staff who received a progression pay increase would not also receive the 1% in addition to their incremental pay increases.2
Alexander’s letter, sent to the DDRB last week, said that NHS trade unions were “not prepared” to negotiate an “affordable alternative” to the 2014-15 solution. “Therefore it is our intention to take the same approach in 2015-16. As a result, the DDRB will not be asked to make recommendations on a pay award for employed doctors and dentists in the 2015 pay round.”
In its submission to the DDRB last year the government suggested that contract changes such as introducing seven day working should be a condition of doctors receiving the 1% basic pay rise set aside for public sector workers in 2014-15.3
At the BMA’s annual representative meeting earlier this year, delegates passed a motion attacking the government’s failure to implement the DDRB’s recommendations. It noted that “the DDRB was set up as a result of a royal commission to avoid manipulation of doctors’ pay by governments for political purposes.”4 Mark Porter, the BMA’s chairman of council, said that the government’s decision would mean a sixth year of real terms cuts in pay for doctors, at a time when demand for NHS services was rising and there were recruitment and retention problems.
“The purpose of an independent review body is to ensure fairness and transparency in decisions on pay,” he said. “By repeatedly ignoring the DDRB’s recommendations, and now confirming it will not even be given the opportunity to feed into next year’s decision on pay, the government is making a total mockery of the independence of the pay review bodies and preventing them from working in a fair fashion for doctors, staff, and patients.”
Porter added, “Given that this comes at a time when doctors are working harder than ever before to meet rising demand, it’s not surprising that morale is being hit. While the BMA understands the economic constraints the NHS faces, the continued erosion of pay undermines the excellent work and dedication to patient care from doctors and other NHS staff. [It] serves to highlight the government’s failure to find a meaningful and sustainable solution to the funding crisis facing the health service.”