HCSA Scotland calls for taskforce to tackle hospital doctor shortages after latest sub-inflation pay award

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

The Scottish Health and Social Care Directorate yesterday published full details of this year’s pay award for hospital doctors in Scotland, which are as follows:

  • All hospital doctors earning £80,000 or less FTE on the national salary scale will receive a 3 per cent pay rise, backdated to 1st April 2018
  • All hospital doctors earning above £80,000 FTE on the national salary scale will receive an uplift of £1,600 to basic pay, or the pro rata equivalent, backdated to 1st April 2018
  • The value of distinction awards and discretionary points is frozen
  • Many fees and allowances (see pay circular for full details) will increase by 3 per cent, backdated to 1st April.

A detailed breakdown is available in the 2018-19 pay circular.

While acknowledging that the figures were 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 the establishment of a dedicated Scottish government taskforce, involving doctors’ unions, to:

• Identify the causes behind the current difficulties in attracting and retaining sufficient numbers of senior doctors.
• Assess future challenges posed by the demographics of the current workforce.
• Establish and assist in implementing an action plan to ensure that vacancies are funded and filled.