Cover story: Scottish award ‘a wasted opportunity’ to tackle vacancies crisis

HCSA Scotland has urged the Scottish Government to heed its call for a hospital doctor staffing task force, branding the 2018-19 pay award for medics “a wasted opportunity.”

In Scotland, the pay settlement reflected those for other public sector workers, with doctors earning below £80,000 receiving a fully backdated rise of 3 per cent, and those above a flat £1,600.

While acknowledging a notable improvement on the award for doctors in England, HCSA Scotland Executive member Dr Bernhard Heidemann warned: “This pay award is another real-terms pay cut for all grades that will do little to address the difficulties NHS Scotland already faces in recruiting hospital doctors.

“This is not just about individuals’ pay. Wages in Scotland do not operate in a vacuum, and the difficulties, particularly in far-flung parts of the country, in recruiting and retaining medical staff should be a major concern shaping pay policy.

“Consultant shortages trebled to 430 between 2010 and 2017, and the decision to again suppress wages is a wasted opportunity to address this problem.

“We call on the Scottish government and BMA to join with us in a task force, as endorsed by the Scottish TUC, to address the reasons behind the difficulties recruiting and retaining hospital doctors.”

HCSA is calling for a dedicated Scottish government task force, involving doctors’ unions, to identify current causes of vacancies, predict future challenges, and agree an action plan to tackle the issues raised.