The BMA intends to leave the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) pay recommendation process, it has revealed.
It follows longstanding concerns about the ‘independence’ of the body, which recommends doctors’ pay uplifts to the Government.
The BMA provides the DDRB with evidence on an annual basis but currently does not make representations regarding GP partner pay due to the five-year agreement in place since 2019.
Last month, the Government announced a 3% pay rise for salaried GPs for 2021/22 following the DDRB’s most recent review.
Last year, doctors attending the BMA’s annual representatives’ meeting (ARM) voted for the BMA to withdraw from the DDRB ‘before the end of 2020’, but this was deferred to allow the other requirements of the passed motion to be fulfilled.
Now a motion to be debated at the 2021 ARM next month has confirmed plans for the BMA to leave the process.
Doctors called on the BMA to ‘immediately’ clarify what alternative routes will be in place for pay negotiations.
The motion, proposed by the Yorkshire Regional Council, said: ‘This meeting notes the lack of a published plan regarding how the BMA will influence decisions on doctors’ pay once the BMA leaves the DDRB process.
‘We call on the BMA to: immediately advise the membership of what alternative routes for pay negotiations will be pursued when the BMA leaves the DDRB process.’
The motion also demanded a ‘referendum on the BMA’s relationship with the DDRB before the next ARM’.
It added that the BMA must ensure there is a ‘mandatory requirement’ for the continued annual publication of workforce status reports and ‘requests for pay’ from doctors in all settings ‘in line with the standard expected for submission to the DDRB’.
It remains unclear when the BMA will formally leave the process and what this will mean for doctors’ pay negotiations going forward.
A BMA spokesperson said they were unable to comment on the motion ahead of the debate, but told Pulse it is based on longstanding concerns about the DDRB’s level of independence.
Most recently, the BMA called on the DDRB to ‘seize the opportunity to demonstrate its independence’ ahead of July’s controversial pay rise announcement.
In April, BMA pensions committee chair and deputy chair of the UK consultants committee Dr Vish Sharma and BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul attended the DDRB’s oral evidence session ahead of its recommendations.
Dr Sharma said they ‘highlighted that now more than ever we need a fully independent DDRB that fairly represents the interests of doctors and dentists’.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) – which sponsors the DDRB – said the advisory non-departmental public body is ‘fully independent’.
They told Pulse: ‘The pay review bodies are fully independent and they consider a range of evidence to make their recommendations, including from trade unions, the NHS and government.’
Last month, the DDRB raised concerns around GP recruitment and retention in its pay recommendation for salaried GPs.
It warned that despite rising trainee numbers, the GP workforce is effectively ‘stagnant’ due to poor retention and an increase in part-time working.
The Government had originally proposed a 1% pay increase for doctors in March, but raised this to 3% after accepting the DDRB’s recommendation.
Motion in full
YORKSHIRE REGIONAL COUNCIL: That this meeting notes the lack of a published plan regarding how the BMA will influence decisions on doctors’ pay once the BMA leaves the DDRB process. We call on the BMA to:-
i) immediately advise the membership of what alternative routes for pay negotiations will be pursued when the BMA leaves the DDRB process;
ii) ensure there is a mandatory requirement for all branches of practice to publish annual reports as to the state of their workforce and requests for pay, in line with the standard expected for submission to the DDRB; and
iii) hold a referendum on the BMA’s relationship with the DDRB before the next ARM.