HC Deb 23 July 1985 vol 83 cc514-6W
Mr. Nicholas Winterton

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what reply he is sending to the letter of 18 June from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals expounding its view that it is unable to undertake discussions on clinical academics' pay until it knows the outcome of the earlier approaches that it made to his Department on funding;

(2) if he will publish in the Official Report the text of the letter of 18 June to him from the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals on the subject of clinical academics' pay;

(3) if he will make a statement on Government funding policy as it affects the clinical academic staff salaries Committee's remit to ensure the continuance of comparability between clinical academic staff and their National Health Service counterparts.

Mr. Peter Brooke

Following is the text of the letter of 18 June to my right hon. Friend from the chairman of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals about funding arrangements for the salaries of clinical academic staff. My right hon. Friend will reply to that letter as soon as possible. In the meantime he has no plans to make a statement.

From the ChairmanMaurice Shock, MA

18 June 1985

Dear Keith,

You will be aware of my Committee's continuing and increasing concern during the past three years over the funding arrangements for the payment of the salaries of clinical academic staff in universities in the light of the increases promulgated by the Government for doctors and dentists in the National Health Service. The recent decision to implement the recommendations of the Review Body on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration has made the position acute, and I am writing to seek your assistance in resolving the matter.

My Committee was in correspondence with you and your officials last year and this led to a useful exchange with the Permanent Secretaries of both the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Health and Social Security. We are still awaiting the Government's response to the representations which we made on that occasion, and are now additionally faced with the most serious implications of the recent announcement by the Government.

Our situation is becoming impossible. The machinery of the Clinical Academic Staff Salaries Committee (CASSC) was established in November 1979, with the agreement of the Government, the University Grants Committee, the universities and the staff associations, to provide for the direct translation to clinical academic staff of any salary settlement approved by the Government for doctors and dentists in the NHS. It was not set up as a negotiating body. In circumstances where the Government has again approved an award for NHS staff which is over 6 per cent while allowing only 3 per cent. for pay increases for staff in universities the CASSC machinery is virtually inoperable.

The situation is quite different from that for non-clinical staff, where we negotiate directly with the Association of University Teachers and have achieved through our machinery settlements nearer the Government's pay norms than has the Government itself.

In the context of the severe and increasing financial restraints on universities there is no realistic possibility of finding the necessary funds for these increases in NHS levels of clinical pay from within our present resources. This is not the occasion for going into the details of a case which we have already made but I would wish to stress that the reintroduction of pay differentials between academic and NHS clinical staff would have the most serious implications for the contribution which university medical education and training, research and patient care make to the NHS.

At the CASSC held last week, we told the staff side that the universities were unable to undertake discussions on the translation of the new NHS salary levels to clinical academic salaries until we knew the outcome of the approaches made to

your Department and the DHSS earlier in the year for funding to enable universities to meet their obligations both in this current financial year and in future years.

We await your response as a matter of urgency.

I am copying this letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Security.