HC Deb 18 April 1975 vol 890 cc171-2W
Mr. Wellbeloved

asked the Prime Minister if he will now make an announcement about the latest report of the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body.

The Prime Minister

The Review Body's Fifth Report on the remuneration of NHS Doctors and Dentists is published today as a Command Paper. Copies are available in the Vote Office. The Government are most grateful to Sir Ernest Woodroofe and his colleagues for the thoroughness of the report and the rapidity with which it has been produced.

The background to the report is that a year ago the net remuneration of the doctors and dentists concerned was increased by about 7½ per cent., plus thresholds, following the recommendations in the Review Body's Fourth Report. That report, like the Third Report in 1973, was carried out within the framework of the statutory counter-inflation policy, and this is, therefore, the first review of doctors' and dentists' pay for three years which has not been carried out within the context of a statutory policy.

The report recommends increases from 1st April 1975 which add on average 30 per cent. to current rates—including threshold payments—equivalent to increases of 35 per cent. on the rates introduced following the last general review a year ago. The recommendations on the pay of junior hospital doctors and dentists relate to the existing contract which will be superseded by a new contract operative from 1st October this year. The Review Body indicates that it intends to consider the remuneration under the new contract in due course as an extension of the present review, in the light of its current recommendations.

The Government welcome the decision of the Central Committee for Hospital Medical Services to advise consultants to lift sanctions.

The Government are ready to accept the recommendations subject to the staging of increases at the highest salary levels referred to below. In considering the report, the Government have recognised that this is the first full review of doctors' and dentists' pay since 1972, and that the relative position of the two professions has deteriorated. They have also had regard to their own commitment to the independence of the Review Body and their undertaking to accept the recommendations unless there were clear and compelling reasons for not doing so. But the Government consider that at this time of critical economic difficulty for the country their acceptance of the recommendations should be subject to staging the increases at the highest salary levels in the same spirit and way as the increases for the public services recommended by the Top Salaries Review Body last year, and as foreshadowed by the Secretary of State for Social Services' statement following her meeting with the general medical practitioners' representatives on 8th January.

Accordingly: (a) for salaries which, under the Review Body's recommendations, would be increased from a present rate of less than £13,000 to a new rate of more than £13,000, the whole of the amount of the recommended increase up to £13,000 and half of the amount of the increase above £13,000 will be paid from 1st April 1975 and the remainder from 1st April 1976; and (b) for salaries at a present rate of more than £13,000, half of the recommended increase will be paid from 1st April 1975 and the other half from 1st April 1976.

These arrangements will apply to aggregated basic salaries and distinction awards, and will be applied pro rata to those not receiving whole-time salaries. Arrangements will be made to ensure that, for the purpose of calculating entitlement to pension rights, the rates recommended by the Review Body will apply with effect from 1st April 1975. This will ensure that pension rights are fully preserved.