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At last picture emerges of GPs' income

Last week GPs heaved a collective sigh of relief. Finally, they received their indicative practice budgets for 2004/5 and could, for the first time, begin really to understand what the new contract will deliver financially for them.

Far more practices than expected have ended up with the minimum practice income guarantee kicking in to make their global sum more respectable.

Once staff costs are accounted for, GMS income should have been protected. Quality points payments should provide a pay rise in 2004/5 and more the year after. But this does mean extra work.

A bonus is the cost of out-of-hours, which is a fixed percentage of the global sum and not deducted at all from the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) . A figure of £6,000-£7,000 per partner for all out-of-hours cover seems to be a bargain.

But one lingering worry for GPs is that increased expenses may take too much of their pay away.

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