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Hunt refuses to commit to real-terms pay increases for doctors

The health secretary has refused to rule out real-terms pay cuts for doctors, but has said a Conservative government would be as ‘generous as possible’.

At a major health debate ahead of the general election on Tuesday, featuring Mr Hunt, health and care minister Norman Lamb and shadow health secretary Andy Burnham, Mr Burnham was the only member to guarantee real-terms pay increases for doctors.

He said that the Coalition Government had got the pay issue ‘drastically wrong’.

The panelists were responding to a question from BMA chair Dr Mark Porter, who asked ‘whether you can commit to there being no more real- terms pay cuts?’

Mr Hunt said that ‘probably the most difficult single decision’ he had made as health secretary had been on pay, adding: ‘I can’t make that commitment now because I don’t know the full situation.’

However, he added: ‘I want to be as generous as possible providing that no decision I take as health secretary means that we would end up having fewer doctors and nurses.’

He pointed out that the Conservatives were committed to a ‘bigger real-terms increase’ in NHS funding than any other party.

He added: ‘I think the chances of getting a better pay deal are much higher given that we have committed to £10bn effectively towards the [NHS England Five-Year] Forward View. But it is a commitment to more staff as well as paying fairly and I think the two go hand in hand.’

But Mr Burnham said this was an area where the health secretary ‘has got things drastically wrong in my view’.

Asked to clarify if he could guarantee no more real-terms pay cuts, he said: ‘Yes I can, and also you reinstate the independent pay review bodies stood down by Jeremy Hunt, because how do you get fairness in pay if ministers are imposing what they want rather than the independent process that judges what is affordable to the NHS but what is also fair to staff.

‘We have a pretty good track record on this and I think people can look at us and see fairness on pay in the NHS from bottom to top.’

Liberal Democrat health minister Norman Lamb said there had to be ‘honesty’ about the relationship between how much the NHS could afford to increase pay while also increasing staff numbers, but said it would be impossible to continue to achieve NHS efficiency savings by holding down staff pay in the next Parliament.

UKIP, whose MEP Dr Julia Reid was also invited to the debate, said the party would ‘have to address’ the issue of fair pay but that she personally did not know how.

The debate comes after accountants warned that the latest GP contractual funding increase of 1.16% will translate into cuts of as much as 10% to individual GPs’ take-home pay.

Readers' comments (20)

  • Vinci Ho

    Mmmmmmmmmmm

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  • ‘I want to be as generous as possible providing that no decision I take as health secretary means that we would end up having fewer doctors and nurses': equates to; Mrs Sproggs I dont think you have cancer but you might have cancer.

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  • yes because they will be un-real pay cuts !

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  • Basically say what you want till you get the job bretherin.

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  • Vinci Ho

    'A good act does not wash out the bad nor a bad the good'
    Stannis Baratheon
    Game of Thrones
    Season 2
    Episode 4
    (The author George R.R. Martin had a longer version of this)

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  • Approximately £90 billion of the annual £120 billion that the NHS costs is borrowed money. So the coalition has borrowed an extra £450 billion to pay for the NHS. Despite the coalition saying that the economy is improving tax revenues have barely risen.

    That is the reason why the pressure will remain to keep all income low, regardless of the ruling Government in May.

    That is also the reason why we need to resign from the NHS and negotiate our own terms.

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  • I want to be as generous as possible providing that no decision I take as health secretary means that we would end up having fewer doctors and nurses.’

    .....if you carry on crushing doctors and GPs in particular you WILL end up having fewer doctors (and nurses)

    .....this guy has a "child-like" understanding of the issues, should somebody with such a "crude" understanding be wielding such power???

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  • to be fair, we are all living in a fantasy.

    Politicians of course of no sense of reality.

    However it was us doctors who pushed EWTD and have supported part time working. With those costs - we have lost continuity of care.

    Yes there was a short term increase in pay. But the real market forces kick in.
    Pay will fall in real terms unless we limit work.

    But who did we think was going to pay for part time medics? training programmes with a day a week in teaching etc allowing nurses to do the HO/SHO roles in OPD clinics

    If we ask politicians to speak the truth .. we need to be honest and recognize that in many areas we as a profession have been short sighted and not realise that actions have medium and long term consequences - which were predictable and mentioned.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Editor
    You have linked all these previous comments on another article onto this !!!

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  • Dr David Barrett

    Mr Hunt - You've made lots of decisions already that have meant that we have fewer doctors and nurses for a growing population (and more older people).

    No more efficiency savings (of a further £22Billion)can be made, by a workforce demoralised and asked to work harder and harder for less and less.

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