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Government to change DDRB process as consultants call off strikes

Government to change DDRB process as consultants call off strikes

The Government will make changes to the operation of the independent doctors’ pay review body, taking into account the views of the BMA, after reaching an agreement with consultants.

The BMA’s consultants committee accepted the Government’s latest offer on pay and reform for the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB), putting an end to the recent strikes.

The DDRB will be making recommendations for GP partner pay again from this year, as the five-year GP contract – which determined annual funding uplift – came to an end.

The BMA said that the offer to consultants includes ‘important’ and ‘hard fought-for’ changes to the DDRB, as well as ‘significant progress’ in returning the pay review body to its ‘original purpose and independence’.

From next year, there will be changes to the way the body will appoint members, and the Government will not be able to ‘constrain’ its remit with reference to inflation targets and economic evidence.

The DDRB’s terms of reference will also be changed to specifically include developments in earnings over time in the context of long-term trends in the wider labour market, comparator professions, and relevant international comparators.

These changes mean that the DDRB ‘can no longer ignore the historical losses’ that doctors have suffered, the union said.

The offer also includes reform of the consultant pay scale, reducing the time it takes for a consultant to reach the top of the scale, and a 2.85% (£3,000) uplift for those who have been consultants between four and seven years.

BMA consultants committee chair Dr Vishal Sharma said: ‘After years of repeated real-terms pay cuts, caused by Government interference and a failure of the pay review process, consultants have spoken and now clearly feel that this offer is enough of a first step to address our concerns to end the current dispute.

‘However, it’s now imperative that the DDRB utilises its independence to restore doctors’ pay and prevent any further disputes from arising.’

The Government said it is ‘committed’ to ensuring that the pay setting process and DDRB ‘operates effectively’ and ‘independently’ to maintain confidence of relevant professions and stakeholders.

It added: ‘The Government will therefore review and make changes to the operation of DDRB processes, taking into account the views of the BMA, BDA, HCSA, other trade unions and employers, with the intention that these changes are implemented such that they apply for the 2025/26 pay year.’

In November, the Government asked the DDRB for a recommendation on a GP partner pay uplift for the first time in five years.

As revealed exclusively by Pulse, the BMA allowed GPC England to submit evidence to the Government’s pay review body, despite the trade union’s policy to withdraw from the process.

The Government has also promised to reconsider a GP funding uplift once the DDRB makes a recommendation in ‘the coming months’.

NHS England’s director of primary care Dr Amanda Doyle also reiterated this following the 2024/25 GP contract imposition including a funding increase of just over 2%.