Asked on LBC Radio if doctors deserve an additional 30 per cent pay, Chris Philp, Minister for Technology and the Digital Economy said: “No.
“Obviously we support our doctors but a 30 per cent pay rise is enormous.”
Doctors are demanding the pay hike over five years to restore what they say are past salary cuts.
But warning that big pay rises would “feed through into higher prices,” Mr Philp added: “In the case of the NHS, we would have to put taxes up to fund it and the excess money will just drive prices up even further.
“If we have these across the board pay increases that some people are calling for it will just make the current inflation challenges, which I’m hoping and expecting are temporary, it will make them worse, it will drive inflation even higher and it will make inflation permanent as we saw during the 1970s when wages chased up inflation.
“It became circular, like a dog chasing its tail, so I don’t think that is the right response to the inflation challenges that we face and that applies across the entire economy.”
He added: “What we are doing is putting money in this year to help people, particularly on lower incomes, deal with the challenges of inflation, the £400 for fuel, the £650 for people on Universal Credit, the £150 Council Tax rebate, the cut in fuel duty.”
However, Tory and other MPs are pushing for more Government action to deal with the cost-of-living crisis, with some suggesting tax cuts including lower VAT.
Mr Philp’s comments came after doctors told how they had suffered a real-terms pay cut of up to 30 per cent since 2008 and vowed to work to achieve pay restoration.
Some medics are threatening industrial action to “move” the Government on this issue.
Members at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual meeting in Brighton said that doctors’ pay has fallen against RPI since 2008 to the tune of up to 30 per cent, which represents “career earnings loss amounting to millions of pounds” to each doctor.
One consultant described how she is “struggling to survive” as a single parent.
Delegates at the conference mandated the BMA to “achieve pay restoration to 2008 value for its members within the next five years”.
“Pay restoration is the right, just and moral thing to do, but it is a significant demand and it won’t be easy to win,” said Dr Emma Runswick, presenting the motion to the conference.
“Every part of the BMA needs to plan for how to achieve this.
“But I’m not foolish, I know that it’s likely that industrial action will be required to move the governments on this issue.”
Meanwhile delegates also called on ministers to urgently address NHS workforce shortages to help the health service deal with the record waiting list of patients.
A motion passed at the BMA’s annual meeting in Brighton called on governments to put in place a workforce plan and “take the money that is destined to pay the private sector to do NHS work and invests it in expanding the capacity of the NHS”.
Commenting on the workforce motion, Dr David Wrigley, deputy chair of the BMA council, said: “Even before the pandemic the length of time people were waiting for the care they needed was too high. But following the huge disruption and added pressure Covid-19 placed on the UK’s health services, waiting lists have now gone up to a perilous level.
“We have a record 6.5 million people waiting for treatment in England, as well as the significant ‘hidden backlog’ of people who have still to come forward for care after the worst of the pandemic, or whose referrals were cancelled.
“For both patients and doctors, these figures are deeply concerning.”
Ministers are ploughing billions more into the NHS to address the backlog in treatments and appointments.