New IES evaluation of pay comparability methodologies for doctors and dentists

IES News

15 Aug 2017

The Office of Manpower Economics (OME) has today published a review carried out by IES looking at how doctors' and dentists' pay is compared with other occupations.  The review is the first of its kind since 2008.

Whilst assessing whether the current methodology remains fit for purpose, the report also offers recommendations and suggestions on how to extend the coverage of the methodology to primary care doctors and dentists. This work adds to IES' recent projects with pay review bodies, helping them to recommend appropriate comparability methods and rates of pay.

The study reveals that the majority of doctors and dentists still see their vocation as a ‘career for life’, and do not enter into either profession motivated primarily by pay and rewards. However, doctors and dentists note the perceived increasing pressures on the medical profession, their lifestyle, and their earnings. Medical professionals supported the need to compare with other occupations, and backed the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration Review Body’s (DDRB) current comparisons with the pharmaceuticals industry and lawyers, amongst other professions.

The report also finds support from doctors and dentists for the inclusion of additional occupations, based on similar levels of required education and experience, such as academia and the veterinary profession. Interviewees were also vastly in favour of the addition of overseas comparisons, given the growth in the flows of medical professionals, particularly between English-speaking countries, since the 2008 review. 

The report does, however, highlight the difficulty of choosing specific occupations to compare earnings with solely on the basis of data on career outflows and inflows. The report therefore recommends that the DDRB carry out overseas comparator studies. These would look at the most relevant countries, taking into account not only movements to/from the UK, but also the areas such as the remuneration method, salary levels and contractual terms in these countries, with adjustments for cost of living and exchange rates.

Through interviews with key stakeholders from relevant industry bodies, the review highlights that the majority wanted a more detailed pay comparability exercise. Whether through the inclusion of additional occupations, international comparisons, or the use of more complex comparison methodologies, there did remain significant variations in the perceived value of the pay comparison exercise amongst these stakeholders. These variations led the authors to recommend, amongst several other areas for improvement, clarification in the purpose of the comparisons.

Review of DDRB Pay Comparability Methodologies

If you are interested in IES’s work with pay review bodies, or more generally in pay and reward areas, please contact Duncan Brown, head of HR consultancy at IES. 

The work described in this report was carried out by IES under contract as part of OME’s research programme. The views and judgements expressed in this report are therefore those of IES and do not necessarily reflect those of OME.