Independent Pay Review Bodies’ Recommendations Accepted in Full
In a significant development for the National Health Service (NHS), the UK government has announced substantial pay increases for doctors and dentists, with junior doctors set to receive an average pay rise of approximately 8.8%.
This decision comes as the government acknowledges the vital contribution of NHS staff and aims to attract and retain skilled professionals while also considering inflationary pressures. The pay rise follows recent increases for nurses, paramedics, and midwives, as well as one-off payments.
Pay Scales for Doctors and Dentists to Increase by at Least 6%
Under the government’s acceptance of recommendations from the independent pay review bodies, most doctors and dentists, including consultants and junior doctors, will experience pay scale increases of at least 6% this year.
The agreement aligns with the recommendations put forth by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB). In particular, junior doctors will witness a substantial rise in their pay, with an average increase of 8.8%.
The extent of the pay uplift will vary depending on the stage of their training, ranging from 8.1% to 10.3%. For consultants, the increase will amount to 6%.
Government’s Recognition of NHS Staff’s Essential Role
Steve Barclay, the Health and Social Care Secretary, emphasized the government’s deep appreciation for the dedicated work of NHS staff and stated that the pay rise reflects this recognition. The decision to implement the recommendations from the independent pay review bodies demonstrates the government’s commitment to fair compensation for junior doctors, consultants, and senior NHS staff.
While acknowledging the importance of keeping inflation under control, the government aims to provide substantial pay increases to deserving staff members. Barclay further stressed that the pay award is not subject to negotiation and called for an end to ongoing strikes by unions still in dispute with the government.
Details of the Pay Rise and Funding Source
The DDRB recommended a minimum pay rise of 6% for most doctors and dentists, while junior doctors will also receive an additional £1,250. As a result, first-year junior doctors can expect their average basic pay to increase from £29,300 to £32,300.
Similarly, a junior doctor in core training with three years of experience will see their pay rise from £40,200 to £43,900. Consultants and SAS doctors on pre-2021 contracts will benefit from the 6% pay rise in addition to the 4.5% increase they received last year.
Other forms of remuneration, such as performance pay, overtime, pay progression, and promotions, will supplement the pay uplift.
The government, prioritizing within existing departmental budgets, intends to fund this pay award while safeguarding frontline services. It is crucial for the government to manage public spending effectively and prevent inflationary pressures.
To address rising healthcare costs, the government plans to increase the main rate of the Immigration Health Surcharge, ensuring it covers the full cost for those who pay it.
The surcharge, which remained frozen for the past three years despite inflationary pressures, will be set at a minimum of £1,035. Additionally, the discounted rate for students, their dependents, those on Youth Mobility Schemes, and individuals under the age of 18 will be set at £776.
Recent Pay Increases and NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan
The announcement of this pay rise follows the recent increase in pay for one million NHS staff members, including nurses and paramedics, who received a 5% pay rise amounting to a minimum of £1,065 for full-time employees. These staff members also received two one-off payments totaling at least £1,655.
The latest pay rise aligns with the NHS’s first-ever Long-Term Workforce Plan, supported by over £2.4 billion in government funding. This comprehensive plan aims to facilitate the most extensive training expansion in the history of the NHS and attract and retain hundreds of thousands of additional staff members over the next 15 years.
Background and Pay Review Bodies’ Recommendations
The pay review bodies thoroughly evaluated various evidence from multiple organizations before formulating their recommendations. The pay awards, applicable only to NHS staff in England, will be backdated to April 1, 2023.
The 2023-24 pay uplift for NHS staff employed directly by NHS providers will be financed through system allocations by NHS England (NHSE).
The government sought recommendations from the DDRB and SSRB for NHS staff who were not part of multi-year deals. This group includes junior doctors, dentists in training, consultants, SAS doctors on old contracts, dentists, and salaried GPs. The full reports from the Pay Review Bodies can be accessed on the government’s official website.
The DDRB recommended a 6% increase for the majority of doctors and dentists under its purview, with junior doctors’ pay rising by an average of approximately 8.8%. This increase accounts for a consolidated basis of 6% plus an additional £1,250.
The Senior Salaries Review Body recommended a 5% increase for Very Senior Managers in the NHS and Executive Senior Managers in the Department of Health and Social Care’s arm’s length bodies, with an extra 0.5% to address specific pay anomalies.
For those already in multi-year deals, the recommendations from the pay review bodies did not apply this year. The DDRB was not tasked with making a pay recommendation for GP partners, as they are governed by a five-year investment agreement in place until 2023/24, which was agreed upon by NHS England (NHSE) and the British Medical Association (BMA) in 2019.
However, the 6% award for Salaried GPs will increase the minimum salary by approximately £3,900 and the maximum salary by around £5,900. The government expects the GP contract to be uplifted to provide funding for salaried general practice staff, with the funding retroactive to April 2023.
The timely dissemination of this funding to all salaried general practice staff is anticipated, although it is at the discretion of GP practices, which are self-employed contractors to the NHS, to determine pay increases for their employees.