GPs in Scotland will receive a 6% pay increase for this year, with the Scottish Government saying this was in line with independent pay review body recommendations.
NHS Scotland senior medical and dental staff, GPs and general dental practitioners will all receive the pay increase for 2023/24, backdated to 1 April.
The Scottish Government said the uplift was based on an as-yet unpublished Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) recommendation.
It argued the ‘record’ pay award ‘demonstrates the value’ of senior NHS staff; however, the BMA disagreed, branding the uplift ‘massively disappointing’.
The doctors’ union had asked for ‘a significant pay uplift’ in 2023/24 to address the risk to real-terms pay posed by high inflation.
BMA Scotland chair Dr Iain Kennedy said: ‘With RPI inflation running at 11.3% according to the latest figures, it amounts to a significant pay cut which will be another kick in the teeth to doctors working incredibly hard at all levels and across both hospitals and GP practices to keep desperately struggling services afloat.
‘We have long warned that the NHS in Scotland is running on the goodwill of staff alone. It is now beyond doubt that this well of goodwill ran dry a long time ago.’
‘Although we are yet to see this year’s full DDRB report, our members in Scotland are also deeply concerned that the process is not working as it was intended to and that it must improve,’ he added.
‘If doctors’ pay is to be restored to a reasonable level, year-on-year pay awards that are significantly above inflation are required. This award singularly fails to deliver on that necessity.
‘Without these steps, we’ll go on losing doctors who feel ignored and devalued, either to early retirement or to competitors abroad and at home who are actually willing to pay what we are worth as highly skilled professionals.
The BMA said it will urgently consult all Scottish members to understand ‘the strength of feeling’ that this award will cause.
Dr Kennedy added: ‘It will then be down to each individual part of the profession, from consultants, staff and associate specialist doctors, GPs and junior doctors to decide next steps.
‘Be in no doubt, though, that the Scottish Government is now on warning and that no part of the medical profession is likely to view this pay award as anywhere near good enough.’
Scottish health secretary Michael Matheson said: ‘The NHS has faced substantial challenges over the last few years, and staff have been working tirelessly to continue to provide care while under increased pressure.
‘This award demonstrates the value we have for all our senior medical and dental staff and the invaluable contribution they make.
‘It’s crucial that we continue to not only recruit and build our future NHS workforce, but also retain expertise within and this award will mean our staff remain the best paid in the UK – and an overall minimum increase of 10.5% over the past two years.’
Scottish GPs received a 4.5% pay increase for 2022/23.
Meanwhile, England’s GPs are now in the last year of a five-year deal that has aimed for 2.1% year-on-year increases to take-home pay.
Welsh and Northern Irish GPs are yet to find out about their 2023/24 pay award.
A version of this story first appeared on our sister publication Pulse.