Doctors demand 10% pay rise

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DOCTORS OPENED the bidding for a share of the NHS's pounds 21bn jackpot from the Treasury with a 10 per cent pay claim yesterday.

The pounds 21bn increase over three years, the biggest in the National Health Service's history, was announced by the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, in July as part of the Government's comprehensive spending review. It was accompanied by a warning from Frank Dobson, Secretary of State for Heath, that pay rises would have to be affordable.

In evidence to the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Body published yesterday, the British Medical Association said the award would provide "sufficient funds to begin the process of restoring medical incomes to their appropriate level". It said the gap between public and private sector pay was continuing to widen and doctors' pay was falling behind that of higher-paid employees. It called for a five-year timetable for restoring the pay of doctors, starting next year with average increases of at least 10 per cent.

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the BMA Council, said he was confident patients would back the doctors' pay claim.

"They are getting treated by fewer and fewer qualified doctors in all branches of medicine. Waiting times, both within the GP system and the hospital service, bear witness to that. One of the main factors behind people going into a responsible job is the rate of pay and therefore I expect the public will understand that the rate of pay we are calling for is justified," he said.

The BMA said senior hospital doctors were coping with a heavy workload, and emergency admissions and day case work were increasing. "Temporary extra payments are not a suitable method of rewarding permanent additional workload."