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Questions remain over medics’ pay increase

It is hard to see who the government’s announcement on doctors’ and dentists’ pay will make happy.

The 1.5 per cent pay rise for consultants, which will not be backdated and come in from October, is less than the 2 per cent recommended by the independent pay review body. The two unions representing consultants have slammed the announcement and the British Medical Association has even said it is considering its next steps.

The BMA said the move “will make a bad situation much worse”, and we should expect to hear more from the most powerful union in the country on a decision affecting its most influential members.

Meanwhile, questions remain over who will foot the bill, after the Department of Health and Social Care made it clear the pay increases will need to be funded out of existing budgets.

That means there could be some wrangling ahead between the department, NHS England and the trust sector.

NHS Employers, which represents providers, said: “We now need assurances around how such awards can be fully funded.” 

How much will this cost?

Taking average salaries as a rough starting point (not including bank and agency), hospital doctors are paid £13.3bn a year. A 1 per cent pay rise above the budgeted 1 per cent baseline (a total increase of 2 per cent) would see a full year cost pressure to NHS trusts of £133m. As the increases are only being made from October 2018, this would halve the cost impact in 2018-19.

The other bit of significant news in Matt Hancock’s statement was a pledge to kick off wider negotiations on the consultants’ contract, to reach a multiyear settlement and a new system of performance related pay.