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The Government is pushing the pay Review Body to cut the income supplement for GP registrars in order to boost recruitment of hospital doctors.

Department of Health evidence to the 2005 review said 'careful consideration' should be given to reducing the 65 per cent supplement, which brings GP registrars' pay closer to those in hospital posts.

The proposal provoked a furious response from GPs who have argued that the supplement should be raised to 80 per cent.

GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the department's evidence 'beggared belief'. He added: 'You only have to look at the figures to see there have been far more recruits into secondary care.

'For the department to suggest everything is now all right in the GP world is, to say the least, disingenuous.'

Latest figures showed a slight decrease in the number of GP registrars, he added.

Deputy chair of the GPC registrars sub-committee Dr Andrew Thomson, a senior house officer in Angus, Scotland, said the stance was 'appalling' and had 'no logic'.

He said: 'The reason for increasing the supplement was to ensure recruitment and retention of GP registrars, and it remains just as important.'

The supplement is set at 65 per cent of basic salary, compared with 60 per cent for hospital registrars.

The department also recommended pay for registrars and salaried GPs should rise by only 2.5 per cent in line with the Government's inflation target for 2005/6. The pay range for salaried GPs employed by PCTs is currently £47,710 to £72,478. Pay for GP principals is no longer set by the Review Body.

By Nerys Hairon

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