The government announced a 2% pay award for the police, and a 1.7% rise for prison officers for 2017/18, and admitted that from 2018/19 'in some parts of the public sector, particularly in areas of skill shortage, more flexibility may be required to deliver world class public services'.
It warned, however, that increases could come 'in return for improvements to public sector productivity', and said that 'pay discipline' would remain in the coming years to 'ensure the affordability of public services and the sustainability of public sector employment'.
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon announced last week that Scotland would lift the pay cap, in a move that raised hopes of a GP pay rise. GP pay rises, in line with the rest of the NHS, have been capped at 1% since 2013/14. NHS pay was frozen for two years before the 1% cap was imposed.
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: 'There is clearly growing support for public sector workers' message to the government: that the pay cap is unfair, unacceptable and must be lifted. Even the prime minister isn’t so sure that it is a good idea anymore.
'Doctors’ pay has sharply declined, falling by 22% since 2005. Staff morale across the health service has been worsened by year on year real-term cuts to pay through the government’s public sector pay cap. The NHS is struggling to attract and retain doctors: a recent BMA survey has found that two thirds of hospital doctors, and almost half of GPs, report vacancies in their departments and practices.
'With the NHS at breaking point investing in the NHS workforce and providing fair terms and conditions must be a priority for this government, otherwise the NHS simply won’t be able to attract and keep the frontline staff needed to deliver safe, high-quality patient care.'
Chief secretary to the Treasury Elizabeth Truss said: 'Our talented and hardworking public sector workers deserve to have fulfilling jobs that are fairly rewarded and I am pleased to confirm the pay awards for police and prison officers for 2017/18.'
The Prison Officers Association has rejected the 1.7% offer, warning that it is below inflation and would amount to another real-terms pay cut.