The NHS Employers organisation believes the Doctors and Dentists Review Body should not recommend an increase in pay scales for NHS doctors over the next financial year. This will help organisations maintain the quality of NHS patient care, tackle an unprecedented savings challenge and minimise job losses.

In its annual submission to the Doctors and Dentists Review Body, the NHS Employers organisation says those managing the health system do not believe increases in national pay rates from April 2013 are necessary or affordable.

The NHS Employers organisation now has primary responsibility for providing evidence to the Review Body as the recognised voice of employers in the NHS in England undertaking some roles previously carried out by the Department of Health.

NHS organisations say the unnecessary cost of increasing doctors’ pay would divert money away from the delivery of patient services.

The NHS Employers organisation says the remuneration package for doctors remains “highly competitive” when pension and non-pay benefits are taken into account. These benefits remain highly attractive and have acted as a “valuable retention and recruitment tool” for NHS organisations.

Despite the current two-year pay freeze for doctors, the pay bill for NHS trusts has continued to rise. Earnings of individual doctors have increased between three per cent and eight per cent per year as a result of incremental pay increases and progression through training.

Typically any given new consultant appointed in 2010 earning £81,954 per annum will today be earning £89,652 – an increase of £7,698, or nine percent, despite having a pay ‘freeze’.

This has made the challenge for local trusts to find the unprecedented £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015 all the more difficult.

In addition to a continued freeze of pay scales, employers are strongly in favour of linking pay progression to performance rather than to the number of years a doctor has worked.

NHS Employers says the existing reward package for doctors employed by the NHS has led to stable recruitment and retention, and job satisfaction among doctors being high.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, says:

“Everyone, including doctors, knows these are challenging times for us all. The simple truth is that NHS organisations cannot afford an unnecessary increase in doctors’ pay rates over the next year without it impacting on patient care.

“We understand the frustration felt by many doctors about freezing pay scales, but we know they recognise the financial challenges facing all organisations. Most doctors in the NHS already benefit from annual incremental pay increases and pay progression through training. Any additional increase is unaffordable for the NHS.

“Sixty five pence of every NHS pound is spent on staff and they do a tremendous job. We must however make sure that we get the best possible value for the money we have available to us. We need to achieve a balance among the interests of patients, taxpayers and staff.

“We have asked the DDRB not to recommend increasing the national pay scales from April 2013. If we do increase pay, we risk serious consequences for the sustainability of some NHS services and their responsiveness to local needs. It will mean less investment for patient services and a greater risk of NHS job losses.

“We also need better arrangements that allow employers to more closely match doctor’s rewards to their individual performance. Schemes like Clinical Excellent Awards need to be urgently reviewed.”