Pay Survey 2019 | Association of Anaesthetists

Pay Survey 2019

Pay Survey 2019

Many of you will know the heart-sink feeling when you look at your bank account or payslip and get the awful realisation that you have been paid incorrectly. Despite not being at fault personally, the next steps include multiple phone calls and emails, valuable time wasted in search of fairness and resolution, not to mention the HMRC’s ‘hold music’. For many, this is more than a slight inconvenience and can lead to significant financial hardship.

The Association of Anaesthetists and RCoA first investigated this issue in 2017, aiming to establish the extent to which anaesthetists in training were experiencing difficulties with their pay [1]. More than statistics, the nine pages of free text comments made for difficult reading. In response to the survey, we met with NHS Employers and highlighted resources for anaesthetists in training. Although well received, we wanted to see whether these had led to any tangible improvement as shown by a reduction in the number of issues encountered.

A repeat joint survey was therefore completed in 2019 to assess the current situation [2].

Key findings

  • 55% of respondents had received late or inaccurate salary in the previous 12 months (down from 73% in 2017). 
  • 30% of this group had suffered on multiple occasions. 
  • 15% of respondents had suffered financial hardship as a result of receiving an inaccurate salary payment. 
  • 66% of respondents had been given an emergency tax code, of whom 50% had experienced this on multiple occasions. 
  • 37% of respondents did not know their current tax code. 
  • 22% of respondents believed that their tax code was incorrect. 
  • 50% of respondents had inaccurate additional pay noticed retrospectively. 
  • 52% of respondents report little or no understanding of their payslip. 
  • As in 2017, the qualitative data from the free text sections (a further nine pages of grim reading) brought the issue into sharp focus, and thematic analysis highlighted some common problems: 

  • Communication issues with HR departments. 
  • Issues involving HMRC, predominantly relating to emergency tax codes. 
  • A desire to adopt a lead employer trust system to mitigate some of these issues.

Regardless of the exact cause, the consequences of receiving incorrect pay, and the time and effort required to resolve it, leads to low morale and feelings of being undervalued. The following submission summarises our main concerns:

“Incredibly stressful getting underpaid every time I rotate, which often is every three months. It is a massive waste of my time (often unsuccessfully) chasing my missing pay. It is affecting my wellbeing and has affected me financially negatively.”

Improving the situation

We are committed to working on your behalf to improve your financial wellbeing – indeed we feel that this is such an important issue that we have devoted this entire edition of Anaesthesia News to it. We hope this serves as a resource to help you address pay related issues whenever they occur, with additional resources. We are working with our advocacy and campaigns manager, in coordination with the RCoA, to highlight the issue and how it affects a workforce already under pressure. Through both organisations, we have links with decision-makers at Trust, deanery and national level. Building on the relationships formed following the last survey, we aim to influence those in positions of power to embrace solutions such as the lead employer model, leading to positive system change. We hope you find the resources useful and, as ever, are keen to hear about the issues that affect you.

If you are in financial difficulty, free impartial advice can be found at the Money Advice Service.

Keith Hodgson
Vice-Chair, Association of Anaesthetists Trainee Committee
ST6 Anaesthetics, South East Scotland School of Anaesthesia

Simon Denning
Past Honorary Secretary, Association of Anaesthetists Trainee Committee
Clinical Fellow in Paediatric Anaesthesia, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto


  1. Royal College of Anaesthetists. Almost three quarters of anaesthetists in training subjected to late or inaccurate salary payments by NHS hospitals, 2018. https://www.rcoa. (accessed 10.03.2020). 
  2. Association of Anaesthetists. Trainee pay issues survey: Association statement, 2019. Membership/Trainees/Trainee-pay-issues-survey-Association-statement (accessed 07.03.2020).