The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for "at least" a 4% pay rise for doctors in 2009 to protect the value of existing contracts relative to inflation.
In its evidence to the UK's Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB), the BMA insisted that pay for public sector workers, including doctors, should not be used as a tool to try to control inflation.
"Last year's below-inflationary rises have failed to keep pace with the increase in the cost of living," said Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chairman. "Moreover, GPs received no increase in gross remuneration and, with practice expenses rising considerably, most of them had a significant pay cut for the second year running."
An annual pay rise for doctors of at least 4% in 2009 would be "an appropriate and affordable increase to protect", the BMA's evidence says.
"It is clear that the present round of inflationary pressures is driven almost entirely by increases in raw materials prices feeding into energy and food costs and would not have been, indeed has not been, averted by restrictions on public sector pay increases," says the BMA's submission to the DDRB.
"As a result, public sector pay increases have been held back unnecessarily and have failed to keep pace with increases in the cost of living."
Dr Meldrum said: "Determining a fair pay award will be no easy task this year with the economy remaining in an unstable and unpredictable state. We recognise this and have submitted a responsible request for pay increases. Unnecessary holding back of public sector pay is not the answer."
Do you agree with the BMA? Have public sector pay rises been held back unnecessarily? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)
"Yes, I fully agree with the BMA" – Kalaivani Rajan, Newcastle Upon Tyne