The BMA has sparked anger by secretly awarding its senior figures pay rises of up to 137% and doubling its leader’s salary to £172,000 at a time when doctors are suffering pay restraint.
Critics have condemned the hikes in the salaries of seven key BMA representatives, reports The Guardian.
Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA council, has seen his income rise from £88,320 last year to £171,692 – a 94% uplift.
The chair of the BMA in Scotland, Dr Peter Bennie, has seen his salary go up 137%, from £32,205 to £76,431, while his counterpart in Wales, Dr Philip Banfield, has also received an increase of 99%, from £31,500 to £62,631. The income of the Northern Ireland chair, Dr John Woods, rose from £30,150 to £62,631 – up 108%.
The payments are embarrassing for the BMA, which has repeatedly criticised the coalition’s decision to deny doctors pay increases as insulting and demoralising.
Most doctors have received just one 1% pay rise in the past five years.
A confidential internal BMA briefing paper, leaked to The Guardian, outlining the changes states that three other BMA “chief officers” – its treasurer, chair of its representative body and president – also received pay rises of 21%, 28% and 7% respectively, taking their salaries up to £83,077, £68,077 and £25,000. It also states that the union’s deputy chair is to start receiving £20,000, but not his original salary.
The union is under fire for failing to acknowlede that it had awarded the hikes, which has sparked a major internal row in the ranks of the organisation that represents 154,000 of the UK’s 234,000 registered working doctors that is likely to erupt at its annual conference later this month.
The rises were only narrowly approved, by a 15-11 vote, by members of the BMA’s ruling council after strong arguments were raised against it. Although the vote took place in November, the union had not announced or acknowledged the rises, or told its membership about them even though they came into force on 1 January.
MPs, for example, are currently being criticised for a likely 10% pay rise this year.
Six of the seven chief officers have been given the cash equivalent of a Clinical Excellence Award, which some NHS hospital consultants receive in recognition of outstanding work. For example, Porter’s £171,692 is based on the salary a senior consultant would earn plus a Platinum CEA which is worth £75,796.
Dr Andrew Dearden, the BMA’s treasurer and a GP, and Dr Ian Wilson, the chair of the union’s representative body and a hospital pain specialist, were both awarded a pro rata share of a silver clinical excellence award, worth £46,644. And the chairs of the BMA in Scotland, Wales and NI will each receive a pro rata element of a bronze award, worth £35,484.