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Pay rise for military doctors wont ease staffing shortage

Wednesday 8th April 2015
The BMA has argued that a one per cent pay rise for military doctors will not address sustained shortfalls in staffing numbers. Image Credit: iStock/monkeybusinessimages
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    The planned pay rise for doctors in the military will not be substantial enough to quell staffing shortages, according to the British Medical Association (BMA).

    As of April 1st, doctors serving the armed forces have seen a one per cent increase in pay, following the government's decision to accept recommendations from the Armed Forces' Pay Review Body (AFPRB).

    The rise is in line with the average upturn in public sector pay for 2015-16, as outlined in the government's 2013 Budget.

    It was one of a number of recommendations from the AFPRB, along with a one per cent increase in pay for general medical practitioners and associate trainers, and an expansion of the existing 'golden hello' scheme for medical officers.

    The BMA applauded the pay review body for heeding some of its concerns and noted that the resulting pay rise is in line with the rest of the military, demonstrating the important role played by doctors in supporting the armed forces.

    However, the association also argued that the resulting increase for military doctors is simply not sufficient to diminish the current issues related to staffing levels.

    Brendan McKeating, head of the armed forces committee at the BMA, said: "The award does not go far enough, and will not address the sustained staffing shortfalls and the increasing number of medical officers leaving the Defence Medical Services (DMS)."

    Despite the criticism, the armed forces committee has been reassured by the AFPRB's recommendation that more flexibility is required in DMS working arrangements, as well as its support for an independent review into the planned increase in the use of medical reserves.

    Both of these issues will be followed up with the Surgeon General's Department, the BMA stressed.

    Comprising medical, dental and nursing staff, allied health professionals, and paramedical and support personnel, the DMS is staffed by almost 7,000 medical workers and delivers healthcare to 159,630 servicemen and women.

    Written by Mathew Horton

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