Government's response to DDRB recommendations

Doctor testing patient

The government has published a response to the 46th Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB) report.

In setting the context and direction for the DDRB’s considerations, the government confirmed its adoption of a more flexible approach to pay in return for improvements in productivity. 

As the financial outlook remains extremely challenging for employers, the government also underlined the need to ensure the affordability and sustainability of services and employment in the context of a spending review that budgeted for 1 per cent average basic pay awards.

In response, the DDRB has recommended a 2 per cent flat uplift for all remit groups, with an additional targeting of 1.5 per cent specialty doctors and associate specialists.These DDRB recommendations have not been accepted in full by government and a summary of their response for each of the remit groups is set out in the following table.

The steady progress away from ending the cap on earnings for NHS staff will be welcomed by employers but to ensure that this can continue, moving forward some assurance as to how such awards can be fully funded will be required.

Remit group  Government response 

From 1 October 2018:

  • a 1.5% increase to basic pay
  • the value of both national and local clinical excellence awards (CEAs) to be frozen
  • 0.5% of pay bill to be targeted on the new system of performance pay to increase the amount available for performance pay awards from 2019/20.

The government has also committed to negotiations on a multi-year agreement incorporating contract reform for consultants to begin from 2019/20.

 Doctors and dentists in training

  From 1 October 2018

  • A 2% increase in basic pay and the value of the flexible pay premia.

The Government has also committed to discussing changes to the pay structure as part of the 2018 review of the contract.

Specialty doctors (new grade 2008) and associate specialists (closed grade)

 From 1 October 2018

  • Increase basic pay by 3%

The government intends to review the salary structure for these grades as part of a wider review of their role, career structure and the developmental support available to them. The intention is that this will follow the agreement of reformed arrangements for consultants.

General dental practitioners From 1 April 2018 (backdated)

From 1 April 2018 (backdated)

  • Increase expenses by CPI of 3%

From 1 October 2018

  • Increase dental income and staff costs by 2%

The doctors covered by these remit groups are unlikely to welcome the government’s decision and may quickly look to a comparison with the three year contract reform agreement on the NHS Terms and Condition of Service (Agenda for Change).  The crucial point to note is that the agreed 3 per cent pay investment per year was in return for significant contract reforms, including progression pay reforms that end automatic annual increments. No such contract reform has been agreed for those remit groups covered by the DDRB but as noted in the table above, the government has ambitions to do so.

Further information

A pay circular detailing the new pay arrangements will be published on our website in due course.

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