As Consultants, Specialty Doctors and Associate Specialists, we are amongst the most experienced and knowledgeable clinicians in the workforce. We manage highly complex cases and accept ultimate responsibility for the care of our patients.
We lead teams, teach and train junior doctors and develop services within the hospitals we work in. Every day, we make difficult decisions and handle life and death situations.
But we are not being rewarded for the challenging work we do. We shouldn’t be worth a third less now than we were 10 years ago.
IFS modelling demonstrates that the Consultant group have experienced greater pay erosion than any other NHS staff group. With chronic understaffing, we are being asked to do more for less.
The Nuffield Trust estimates the NHS is 12,000 hospital doctors short in England alone. We are burnt out from the pandemic, yet have no opportunity to recover as we fill rota gaps caused by long standing vacancies.
Pensions tax charges are forcing many of us to withdraw from the NHS pension and lose employer contributions, or to reduce work and retire early. The Health and Social Care Committee recently described this as a “national scandal”.
Twenty percent more NHS doctors applied to retire in 2021-2 than the year before, according to NHS digital data. This year’s pay award, and the refusal to acknowledge the impact of pensions taxation, demonstrates a total disregard for the retention crisis facing the NHS.
We cannot go on like this. The NHS is losing its most senior doctors, and the pipeline of Consultants and Specialists coming through is insufficient to replace us quickly enough.
The key to retaining doctors is to value the workforce. For patient safety and for the medical profession, it’s time to address pay erosion.