University employers have appealed to the prime minister to intervene to safeguard the pay of clinical academics.
Philip Love, chairman of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association and of the Clinical Academic Staff Salaries Committee, has written to Mr Major seeking Pounds 4.8 million in extra cash. This is to bridge the gap between the 1.5 per cent likely to be offered to clinical academic staff and the 3.8 per cent to 6.8 per cent rises awarded to other National Health Service staff.
Mr Love, who is vice chancellor of Liverpool University, writes: "We know from past experience that a shortfall in clinical academic salaries relative to NHS colleagues results in a rapid drying-up of recruits to academic medicine and dentistry with immediate effects on training, research and treatment."
Since 1979 clinical academic pay has been linked to that in the NHS, and the Government has generally maintained this parity. Without it clinical academics will receive the 1.5 per cent - around 1 per cent below the rate of inflation - offered to other university staff.
His initiative has been backed by the British Medical Association. Colin Smith, chairman of the BMA medical academic staffs committee, said: "It is totally unacceptable that we are being offered only 1.5 per cent when Parliament has explicitly recognised the need for clinical academic staff to have pay parity with their NHS colleagues."
"Clinical academics make up 10 per cent of the NHS consultant workforce, spending 50 per cent of their time in direct patient care."