• Motion passed at BMA consultants committee conference to pull out of DDRB
  • BMA says unless DDRB improves how it operates, consultants are unlikely to submit evidence to the pay review body

The British Medical Association’s consultants committee is to withdraw from the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body after a vote by the union’s consultant members.

At a conference for consultant members last week, the motion to pull out of the DDRB was passed almost unanimously.

The decision marks a further deterioration in the relationship between the BMA and the government over its use of the DDRB and continued below inflation pay rises for the medical workforce.

After the vote, a BMA spokesman told HSJ: “Consultant members of the BMA have decided not to engage with the process of submitting evidence to the DDRB.

“Unless the DDRB significantly improves how it operates, consultants are unlikely to submit evidence to the DDRB next time.”

He added: “A decision on how or if there could be a negotiating process for hospital consultants separate to the wider membership of the BMA remains to be discussed.”

BMA council member Mike Henley, a member of the consultants committee, said on Twitter it “remains to be seen exactly how we set up this decision”.

“But I have to say we’ve had the same plan for [the] last 11 years and that’s not worked,” the urological surgeon from Royal Derby Hospital added. “We’ve had 6.75 per cent [pay rise] in the last 11 years. If [the] DDRB had done their job it would have been 25-30 per cent.”

In July last year, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced a pay deal for doctors, which gave consultants just a 1.5 per cent increase from 1 October 2018. It was pointed out that this would only equate to a 0.75 per cent pay rise as it would not be backdated to the beginning of the financial year.

Consultants committee chair Rob Harwood also told HSJ shortly after the pay deal was announced that the year-on-year reduction in pay could not continue and warned the union would review its “measured approach” with the government.

Relations between the BMA and the government reached a low point in 2016 during the dispute over the junior doctors’ contract, which led to the first strike by trainee medics in 40 years.

Negotiations between NHS Employers and the BMA over the consultant contract have also been repeatedly delayed.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are committed to the continuing role of independent pay review bodies in the public sector in gathering evidence and making recommendations on the remuneration of the staff groups covered by their remits. 

“In determining any final package we have to balance these recommendations with the affordability and effective use of taxpayers’ money.” 

NHS Employers declined to comment.