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HCSA rejects ‘business as usual’ pay review process

HCSA has declined to lodge a pay claim to the DDRB pay review process this year with a warning that the profession had lost confidence in a system too heavily controlled by government.

The association wrote to the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration outlining the case for reform to establish true political independence, transparency and fairness.

It explained that a formal junior doctors’ dispute over last year’s latest below-inflation pay award and uproar among Consultants over pensions demanded an end to “business as usual … we cannot have a rerun of last year’s pay round.”

It also underlined how far the current process had strayed from the findings of the Royal Commission in 1960 which gave birth to the DDRB.

The primary aim was to avoid pay disputes which had “bedevilled relations between the medical and dental professions and the Government.”

HCSA General Secretary Dr Paul Donaldson said: “Members are appointed by and accountable to the government. The government tells the body what it has budgeted, and the DDRB plans accordingly.

“Last year, the government instructed the DDRB not to make a recommendation for junior doctors. True to form, it didn’t. The fact that HCSA junior doctors are now gearing up for strike action is a sign that the system has strayed too far from its original purpose.”

The current system had delivered a decade of pay cuts and seen real-terms doctors’ pay fall by 26-33 percent, he said.

“By any measure this is a sign that the supposed independence of the DDRB is simply a myth and it is tightly shackled to government fiscal policy. The system simply isn’t working.”

HCSA’s proposed reforms include:

• Removing requirements for the DDRB to consider government budgets
• Having medical and trade union representation on the body
• A duty for government to accept DDRB pay recommendations.

Read the full document
Read HCSA’s policy on the DDRB