BMA targets low-paying colleges

November 1, 1996

THE British Medical Association has threatened to "blacklist" universities as anger comes to a head over pay disparities between university and NHS doctors.

BMA chiefs agreed on October 16 to invoke their "special notice" policy relating to advertisements for academic medical posts, including dentists, unless there is a resolution of the deadlock over academic clinicians' pay.

Black boxes would surround such advertisements placed in the British Medical Journal, and an accompanying note would ask applicants to contact the BMA before applying. The association will then inform the applicant that the job falls below standard medical rates of pay.

Colin Smith, chairman of the BMA's medical academic staff committee, said: "The idea is not to attack universities but to bring the problem to public notice. We are saying that if we do not maintain parity of pay then we can kiss clinical academic medicine goodbye."

The Doctors and Dentists Review Board on pay has recommended a 3.75 per cent increase this year. The universities have said that they cannot afford this and that they require another Pounds 4.8 million to meet the DDRB recommendation. The Government, despite a pledge in 1986 to uphold the principle of academic-NHS parity, has refused to pay.

The Universities and Colleges Employers Association is due to present oral evidence to the DDRB today in a bid to break the deadlock. The UCEA also wrote to higher education minister Lord Henley last month asking for the extra money needed.

In an open letter to MPs and peers, Robin Matthews, dean of graduate studies at the Bristol medical school, said that there are 60 vacant clinical chairs in British universities, half open for more than a year. He said there will be more moves from universities into clinical posts unless money is found for salaries.

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