The BMA will consider industrial action over doctor ‘pay erosion’, following a vote at today’s annual representative meeting.
The vote also concluded that the BMA should withdraw from the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) process before the end of this year.
An addition to the motion bound the BMA council to actually ballot the profession if a survey shows members are in favour of industrial action over pay.
Ophthalmology consultant Dr Sakkaf Aftab, proposing the motion, said doctors are risking their lives in the Covid-19 pandemic and ‘saying thank you’ is ‘not enough’.
He said pay erosion has affected ‘all doctors’, adding that ‘GPs and junior doctors getting no pay rise’ this year was ‘just scandalous’.
He said the BMA as a ‘representative organisation’ must now survey its members on what to do.
Regarding DDRB, he said the process had led to ‘real-terms pay erosion’ over the years, arguing that the body is no longer independent.
‘They do no longer have the confidence of the profession,’ he said.
Regarding industrial action, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul highligthed ongoing work by BMA committees concerning pay.
He said the BMA should not just rely on a survey to gauge what action members are willing to take. He also pointed out that industrial action could take many forms.
‘It’s important to get this right,’ he said.
Dr David Smith, a junior doctor from Yorkshire, said terminating the relationship with the DDRB was ‘incredibly risky’.
‘We presume that the Government will sit down and negotiate with us annually, but what if they don’t?’
Dr Joanna Sutton-Klein, a junior doctor, argued that public sector pay freezes over the past 10 years have come as ‘the richest in society have got richer’, adding: ‘This country can afford to pay doctors and all NHS workers what we deserve.’
The motion was passed in all parts.
The BMA wrote to the health secretary in July to say that the Government’s decision not to increase GP partner pay this year was ‘completely unfair’ and failed to recognise the vital contributions made during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Motion in full
Motion by THE AGENDA COMMITTEE (TO BE PROPOSED BY YORKSHIRE REGIONAL COUNCIL): That this meeting acknowledges the significant work of UK doctors and medical students in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and that this work was performed on a background of sustained real-terms pay erosion for doctors in the UK. We call on the BMA to:
i) survey members as to their opinions of the pay recommendations suggested by the DDRB in their 48th report (2020);
ii) survey members as to what actions they believe the BMA should take next, in regard to tackling this real-terms pay erosion, including the option of industrial action;
iii) to demand significant above inflation pay rise to compensate for a decade of freezes and sub-inflation pay rises;
iv) to formulate an action plan in case doctors are not offered a fair pay settlement;
v) withdraw from the DDRB before the end of 2020.
Rider: If survey supports industrial action, BMA council has to ballot members on industrial action.
MOTION PASSED IN ALL PARTS