Universities are keeping up pressure on the Government over the insufficient funding for next year's medical academic pay award.
Philip Love, vice chancellor of Liverpool University and chairman of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association, has written to Eric Forth, minister for further and higher education, to express his dissatisfaction at Mr Forth's response to his earlier letter, which was initially addressed to the Prime Minister.
In his first letter he warned that universities would be unable to find more than 1.5 per cent for medical academics, losing the parity with health service pay that has been maintained as a matter of Government policy since 1979, and appealing for an extra Pounds 4.8 million to bridge the gap.
Mr Forth said the matter was one for the universities to settle. "It remains the Government's view that the pay of clinical academics employed by the universities should be linked to NHS doctors pay . . . This is the principle that the UCEA has observed in previous years. While I note what you say about the particular difficulties that have arisen this year, I would urge you to reconsider very carefully your own cogent arguments for retaining the link."
Professor Love's new letter restates the universities' case, citing a promise made by Sir Keith Joseph, then secretary of state for education, in 1986.
Steve Rouse, UCEA chief executive, said: "The Government's response is weak and pathetic." He warned that unless the gap was bridged, university hospitals would rapidly lose staff to the NHS: "We know that doctors are highly sensitive to the gap."