MoD told to improve reserve doctor terms
31 January 2013
Medical officers should be ‘adequately remunerated for the skills they bring to the reserve forces’, the BMA has told the government.
The BMA armed forces committee responded to the green paper Future Reserves 2020: Delivering the Nation’s Security Together, which sets out proposals to grow the reserve forces to 30,000.
The consultation ended as the MoD (Ministry of Defence) announced a third tranche of redundancies of up to 5,300 regular soldiers. Some doctors will be eligible to apply for redundancy. The ministry said a fourth tranche will include medical and dental staff in the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.
To attract doctors to become reservists, the BMA says the proposition needs to be ‘significantly improved’ to include an annual pensionable award that is ‘at a minimum comparable to that of a bronze clinical excellence award’.
Reservists are paid 1/365th of their regular equivalents’ pay for each day of training. The BMA says this is inadequate for GPs as it does not cover the costs of employing locums to cover their work.
The BMA suggests reserve leave entitlement should be extended to at least 10 days for all doctors in the NHS. It has lobbied ministers for several years to introduce this.
It also believes training for reservists should be organised up to a year in advance or with a minimum of eight weeks’ notice except during national crises.
The association adds that legal protection should be put in place to ensure regular reservists are not disadvantaged in applying for jobs.
Its response says: ‘The economic pressures currently facing the NHS may deter employers from recruiting doctors who have a compulsory formal reserve liability.’
The association suggests additional protections are introduced to cover recruitment, promotion, training and redundancy, as well as to protect reservists from dismissal for carrying out their duties.
It says regular reservists could be incentivised to keep their contact details up to date, to ensure they could be called upon if necessary, through a tax-free bounty and extended entitlement to armed forces railcards and access to military facilities.
There also needs to be a commitment that doctors would not be penalised if their revalidation were deferred because of deployment, the BMA advises.
The BMA is concerned reservists do not have access to traditional military support networks after deployment, and says there should be a ‘formal handover of medical responsibility’ from the Defence Medical Services to the NHS so GPs can be aware of any support needed.