Date Published: 6 April 2010

Pay freeze for military GPs and consultants could trigger a recruitment and retention crisis, according to the BMA

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

The British Medical Association (BMA) has said that the announcement of a pay freeze for armed forces GPs and Consultants and a 1% pay rise for junior doctors, staff grades and associate specialists, would worsen recruitment and retention problems facing the Defence Medical Service.

Dr Brendan McKeating, Chairman of the BMA’s Armed Forces Committee said:

Many armed forces doctors will be bitterly disappointed that at a time of heightened operations the government has chosen to freeze pay. We understand the difficult economic climate but earlier this year other military personnel received a pay rise of 2%. It is unfair to single out armed forces doctors, who often serve on the frontline, for a pay freeze."

In a BMA survey of military doctors, also published today, approx 33% said they already had plans to leave the armed forces.

Dr McKeating added:

The survey also shows that four in 10 doctors were looking at using the Premature Voluntary Release scheme which would allow them to leave military service within a year. Clearly there is a serious risk that if the government continues to treat military doctors so poorly it is likely to have a detrimental effect on retention stretching an already undermanned service to breaking point.

The pay freeze fails to recognise the increased time spent deployed in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, armed forces doctors spent an average of 64 days deployed which represents a doubling in deployment time since 2007.

Military doctors typically earn less than their NHS counterparts. Today’s pay award has done nothing to address a disparity that makes it very difficult to recruit and retain doctors in the military. If the situation continues the very high standards of care provided to those who risk their lives in military service could be compromised.

 

Source: British Medical Association..

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