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Anger at pressure for tiny pay rise

The BMA has lambasted the Government for heaping pressure on the pay Review Body to recommend miniscule pay rises for doctors this year.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt wrote to the chair of the Review Body in late December demanding it advocate only a 1 per cent rise for hospital doctors, salaried GPs, registrars and trainers.

Citing a 0 per cent increase in GPs' global sums and quality pay, Ms Hewitt said 'we now think there is a good case for a pay uplift this year of 1 per cent'.

The letter came only weeks after Chancellor Gordon Brown said rises should be pegged below 2 per cent in line with his inflation target for 2006.

Department of Health evidence to the Review Body in October recommended a 2.5 per cent increase.

The effect of a lower rise will be to further widen the pay gap between salaried GPs and partners.

Mr James Johnson, BMA chair, said the ministerial interference was a 'kick in the teeth for doctors'. He said doctors were not responsible for NHS deficits and should not be punished in order to repay them.

In a letter to the Review Body, Mr Johnson attacked the Government's 'overweening assertiveness' and branded the comment that there was a zero uplift in the GMS contract as 'singularly inappropriate'.

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