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23 July 2019, 07:22
A doctors' organisation has called on the Scottish Government to give doctors a fair deal in the wake of Westminster's public pay boost.
BMA Scotland urged ministers to award consultants a pay increase in line with 2.5% announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond and the recommendation by the independent pay review body for doctors and dentists.
The organisation warned a "poor" award would be the "last straw" for the senior doctors and would hit NHS services.
The Scottish Government has yet to announce its doctors' pay award for 2019/20 but confirmed at the budget in January that its public sector pay policy would retain its tiered approach.
This includes an increase of £1,600 for those earning £80,000 or more, up to 2% for those earning between £36,500 and £80,000 and a minimum of 3% for those earning under £36,500.
BMA Scotland chairman Lewis Morrison said: "Today's English pay award announcement does not cover doctors in Scotland.
"While the recommendations from the pay body are UK-wide, it will be up to the Scottish Government to decide how to respond."
He said the recommendations of the pay review body are "disappointing" and do not go far enough, but said the Scottish Government now has a chance to "do better".
Mr Morrison continued: "The Scottish Government simply cannot continue to apply the restrictive and inflexible public sector pay policy to limit pay rises for senior doctors who have devoted their careers to caring for the people of Scotland, on the frontline of our NHS."
He warned an award in line with the public sector pay policy for consultants would be a pay cut, below the pay review body recommendation, below inflation and below counterparts in England.
"We are in the middle of a recruitment and retention crisis for senior doctors in Scotland," he added.
"An award that completely devalues the contribution of these senior, highly skilled and dedicated professionals threatens to be the last straw for many senior doctors.
"Make no mistake, these are the people upon whom our NHS fundamentally depends.
"The impact on services that losing a substantial number of them to the rest of the UK, or indeed the profession entirely, is hard to overestimate.
"We hear a lot of politicians praising and thanking our NHS workforce.
"If the Scottish Government now fail to act and give consultants a pay award at the very least in line with the UK and the DDRB recommendations, then we will be left with no other conclusion that these are hollow words designed purely to play to the political gallery.
"Indeed there is considerable scope for the Scottish Government to choose their own path and do better for doctors of all grades in Scotland.
"I will be attending an urgent meeting with the Scottish Government this week to ensure they are under no illusions about the seriousness of the situation."
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "Consultants and Specialty Doctors in Scotland currently receive a higher basic salary than their counterparts in England.
"We are currently considering the recommendations of the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body and will meet with the BMA Scotland this week to discuss this.
"We will continue to prioritise frontline services and are calling on the UK Government to reinstate the wider health budget reductions, which have cost the Scottish health service a combined £100 million this year, and to deliver their previous commitments in full."