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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 17:06 GMT
Doctors' and dentists' pay anger
The pay offer is below the average level for the economy
Doctor and dentist numbers could suffer following below average pay increases, the trade unions say.

The British Medical Association has criticised the 3% to 3.225% pay rise put forward by the pay review body as earnings are rising by 4.5% on average.

The pay deal, accepted by ministers, only affects those doctors not on new contracts - about 10% of the total.

The British Dental Association also expressed disappointment at the 3.4% increase in fees put forward.

Doctors said the deal will hit morale and affect the recruitment and retention of doctors across the NHS.

Everyday we read stories about people struggling to find an NHS dentist and today's announcement will do nothing to tackle this crisis
Lester Ellman

The number of doctors has risen by 12% since 2000 but certain specialities such as surgeons and GPs are still facing shortages in the coming years unless more staff are recruited.

BMA chairman James Johnson said: "Average UK earnings are rising at a far higher rate than this and morale in the medical profession is already plummeting as a result of plans to water down NHS pensions.

"This is substantially below the increase that was needed to ensure that the NHS has enough doctors to meet the government's waiting time targets."


The BMA also expressed anger at the 3.225% increase in the 750 grant GPs get for training other GPs.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA's GPs committee said: "We are bitterly disappointed that GP trainers will not receive a significant increase in the grant they receive for doing this essential work."

Lester Ellman, of the British Dental Association, said the rise in fees put forward by the Doctors and Dentists Review Body would not help increase access to dentists either.

"Everyday we read stories about people struggling to find an NHS dentist and today's announcement will do nothing to tackle this crisis.

"The costs of running a practice, which dentists pay for themselves, are rising quickly but this is totally ignored.

"Dentists desperately want to invest in better facilities and care for patients, and this is one of the main reasons why they leave the NHS."

But a Department of Health spokesman said the rise should be seen in the context of past increases.

"Since 1997, a consultant on minimum salary has seen their pay increase from 42,000 to 69,000.

"Today's awards should be seen on top of this and other recent improvements."

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