Scottish health professionals are said to be ‘aghast’ at the revelation that senior doctors are taking home bonuses averaging more than £15,000 each while nurses and midwives remain among workers seeing their pay capped for the seventh year running.
Research by the Scottish Conservatives showed that £43,038,750 in bonuses was paid to 2,858 leading NHS Scotland consultants last year, averaging more than £15,000 per head. In 2010, the-Health Secretary for Scotland Nicola Sturgeon pledged to bring the issue under control.
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Bonuses, in the form of distinction awards and discretionary points, go to consultants and other senior medics deemed to have performed above expectation, and the figure has increased by nearly £6 million in the space of a year.
Director for Scotland at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Mary Ross-Davie said: ‘Health professionals across Scotland will be aghast at the level of payments to already very well paid colleagues. This will be especially galling when they, working in the same hospitals as these senior doctors, have faced years of pay freezes and pay restraint.
‘We are all appreciative and supportive of the hard work of these senior doctors. However, midwives have also delivered beyond expectations and are working incredibly hard under increasingly difficult circumstances.’
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With the average midwife worse off by £6,000 a year due to pay policy, the RCM called on the Scottish government to give NHS staff a fair pay award ‘that makes up for years of effectively falling pay’.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said: ‘There’s nothing wrong with hardworking medical professionals being incentivised and rewarded for their work, and of course there’s an acceptance that the NHS has to pay competitively if it wants the best staff.
‘But senior medics like consultants are already very well remunerated, and many – including NHS workers further down the chain – will question the sheer scale of these payments.’
The Scottish government said they rejected the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body recommendation to increase the value of distinction awards and discretionary points for senior consultants or to lift the freeze on new distinction awards.
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According to the government, the Conservatives’ figures are inaccurate because the Health Boards’ annual accounts reflect the pay bill for these staff members, not the individual employee’s gross earnings.
Scottish Health Secretary Shona Robison said: ‘This government values the enormous contribution NHS Scotland staff makes to the health service. Over 98% of NHS employees earning in excess of £100,000 are clinicians or consultants. It is right that we pay the going rate, which is reviewed annually by the independent pay review bodies, in order to attract and retain highly-skilled and much sought-after staff.’