Posted on 24 September 2012 by BMA regional services
Consultants’ PAs (programmed activities) are under scrutiny as never before, with many trusts trying to squeeze the time spent on supporting professional activities.
A little scrutiny on members’ behalf is needed too, as shown by a recent case that recovered £19,000 in back pay for one doctor.
A consultant in trauma and orthopaedics was promised an additional, 11th PA by his clinical director when he transferred to the new contract in 2008.
It was in recognition of the doctor’s increased on-call commitments.
The consultant approached us last year because he was aware there might be a discrepancy in his back pay. So I requested a copy of his last agreed job plan. It only contained 10 PAs.
For around two years the doctor had not been paid for the extra PA. It was not a great battle to secure the money, but it did take nine months from first contacting the trust human resources department to the back pay being awarded.
The problem probably arose because of a lack of communication within the trust. Although a clinical director had agreed the extra PA, the payroll department had failed to amend its records.
There is also a wider issue here about checking payslips, because errors occur with worrying regularity.
This is particularly the case with junior doctors. Changes in banding, the acquisition of increments, and numerous moves between employers can lead to trusts failing to keep up with changes in pay.
Clearly, trusts should get this right, but they don’t always do so, and BMA members can help themselves by regularly checking their payslips or by using our checking service when they get new contracts.
For consultants, it is essential they also check that their job plans correlate with their pay.
If you wish to access the BMA’s contract checking service, which is available to all members, send your contract and membership number to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact an adviser on 0300 123 123 3.