‘Any greater award would almost certainly lead to further reductions in posts, vacancy freezes and failure to meet healthcare and financial targets,’ said Gill Bellord, head of pay and negotiations at NHS Employers.
The government’s inflation target, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), is currently 2 per cent. NHS Employers says that anything above this is ‘unaffordable’.
It explains: ‘Employers have stressed that affordable pay settlements are necessary to ensure that the current financial position in the NHS does not worsen.
‘They have also emphasised the importance of a generic pay uplift across all staff groups. Responses to a questionnaire indicate that a pay award that does not exceed the CPI inflation targets was the most that could be afforded.’
The evidence it has submitted applies to all doctors and dentists in the NHS, including all types of GP, but does have a short paragraph about GMS contract negotiations indicating that these recommendations may not apply to those GPs.
GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said separate GMS negotiations are still at a ‘delicate and difficult stage’. The Review Body may not be needed if agreement can be reached without it.
The GPC has submitted its own evidence as part of a BMA-wide paper to the Review Body, but will not comment on it until the three health departments of England, Wales and Scotland have also submitted theirs.
These are expected to be submitted in the coming weeks after which each party will present further evidence before recommendations are made in the New Year.
The system for Northern Ireland works differently but Dr Meldrum said that it would normally broadly follow the rest of the UK.
Already submitted: BMA evidence and NHS Employers’ evidence.
Still to come: health department evidence from England, Wales and Scotland
Coming months: representatives will be called to give oral evidence and further written responses.
Early 2007: Review Body to make recommendations.