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DH opens up for doctors’ pay review body to apply ‘flexibility’ on awards



The Department of Health and Social Care has said there could be ‘greater flexibility’ around the 1% pay rise for public sector employees budgeted in the last spending review.

In its evidence to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB), the DHSC said that in parts of the public sector struggling with ‘skills shortage, greater flexibility may be required to deliver world class public services, including in return for improvements to public sector productivity’.

The evidence to the DDRB, for consideration ahead of the 2018/19 pay round, said that while the extra money given to the NHS in the 2017 Budget is a ‘generous settlement’, demands have increased. 

The 2017 budget committed a further £2.8bn to the NHS by 2019/20, and an additional £3.5bn of capital investment by 2022/23 ‘to transform the NHS estate and drive further efficiency savings’.

The document said: ‘Whilst this is a generous settlement, demands on the health and social care system continue to increase and meeting this demand whilst simultaneously improving quality of service in an affordable way is increasingly challenging.’ 

It added: ‘[T]he last Spending Review budgeted for a 1% average increase in basic pay and progression pay awards and there will still be a need for pay discipline over the coming years; however, there is recognition that in some parts of the public sector, particularly in areas of skills shortage, greater flexibility may be required to deliver world class public services, including in return for improvements to public sector productivity.’

The evidence comes as official statistics show that the average earnings across all types of GPs in England fell by 1.2%, from £91,200 to £90,100.

This comes despite GP practices being awarded a 3.3% funding uplift for 2017/18 that was supposed to translate to a 1% pay increase after taking into account expenses.

GP leaders said at the time that it is ‘unacceptable’ to see GP pay falling, adding it was ‘no wonder’ young GPs were not choosing the profession while older doctors ‘are retiring as soon as they can’.

Meanwhile, a Pulse survey last month of 547 GPs revealed that GP partner pay decreased by 4.3% since April 2017, despite all UK governments awarding GP contractual uplifts for the year that were intended to lead to 1% rises to take-home pay. 

The Scottish Government announced in September that it will scrap the public sector pay cap, opening the way for a real-terms pay rise for GPs.