The British Medical Association (BMA) has demanded the government stays out of negotiations over doctors’ pay.
The medical lobbying body criticised direct intervention by cabinet ministers in the independent pay review body process describing it as “unacceptable and incompatible with the review body system”.
Health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, wrote to Michael Blair, chair of the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body at the end of 2005, recommending a pay rise for doctors of no more than 1%.
This letter followed one sent by the chancellor a few weeks earlier urging the review body to base pay increases on the government’s inflation target of 2%.
BMA chairman, James Johnson, said the government was “seeking to undermine the established process by which evidence is considered, and will provoke anger and further disenchantment among [BMA] members”.
Johnson warned that if the pay body accepted the government’s recommendations the effect on doctors’ morale would be devastating.
“These government recommendations are a kick in the teeth for doctors who have worked tirelessly to improve the quality of patient care and bring waiting times for operations down to record low levels,” he said.
However, a Treasury document, leaked to the Financial Times, has revealed that NHS doctors and nurses are among the best paid in the world. It says ministers must now secure corresponding productivity gains in return.