Call to end trainees’ automatic pay rises

TRAINEE doctors’ pay rises should be based on their level of responsibility rather than time served in the job, NHS Employers has said.

The organisation wants to see an end to the current system which awards trainee doctors an automatic annual incremental salary increase.

Payments to doctors in less than full time training (LTFT) were seen as particularly unfair as the longer training period meant they reached a higher pay point than full time trainees despite completing the same training programme.

“Automatic pay increases are even awarded to those who fail to progress to the next stage of their training,” NHS Employers added.

The proposals formed part of the organisation’s submission of evidence to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB).

The DDRB is considering proposals to reform the contracts of junior doctors across the UK, as well as consultants in England and Northern Ireland. They took on the task following a breakdown in negotiations between the BMA and NHS Employers in October 2014.

NHS Employers said both a new pay system and a new set of terms and conditions were required to replace the current New Deal contract “which is no longer fit for purpose.”

As well as abolishing time-based pay increments, they also propose an end to the system of banding, with increases to basic pay and different rates of pay for Sundays and night shifts.

Working patterns and training opportunities, they suggest, would be managed via “a work scheduling process”. “This is similar to job planning, but the schedule would be designed around the post and then tailored to the individual postholder, due to the short-term nature of junior doctors’ placements.”

Their new terms and conditions also aim to ensure safe working hours by proposing a “simple set of rules” to limit hours of work and duty. It would not be acceptable, they say, for extra payments to be made to trainees when rules limiting average working hours are breached.

They said: “We believe that doctors in training have the right to work safely, and believe that a system that provides extra financial rewards for doctors when health and safety rules are breached is not acceptable.

Other aspects of the terms and conditions, such as leave, private professional practice and termination of employment are “simplified” under their proposals.

If accepted, the changes would come into effect by August 2016.