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Cut GP pay 'for benefit of society', NHS chief says

By Steve Nowottny

A senior NHS official has called on GPs to accept a voluntary pay cut ‘for the overall benefit of society' and to help the NHS cope with financial pressures.

Dr Linda De Caestecker, who earns £145,000 a year in her role as director of public health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and accepted a pay rise of more than 2% last year, said that a reduction in the amount paid to the medical profession would help equip the NHS ‘to tackle the unacceptable gap in health outcomes between rich and poor.'

In her second biennal report for the health board, entitled ‘An Unequal Struggle for Health', Dr De Caestecker wrote: ‘It is well known that the larger the difference in income between the affluent and more deprived people in a community, the higher the level of almost every modern social, environmental and health problem.'

‘Traditionally, public health experts have argued for levelling up of the circumstances of the poor to those of the rich to address these inequalities. The experience of the recession and our growing concerns about climate change show that this strategy is unsustainable.'

Dr De Caestecker's report goes on to quote RCGP president Dr Iona Heath and public health expert Sir Muir Gray in support of her argument.

‘Iona Heath, a London GP who writes in the BMJ, has said we would not be able to tackle health inequalities without paying attention to the rich as well as the poor,' she wrote.

‘Muir Gray has recently advocated in the same journal that the medical profession needs to lead the revolution but to recognise that it could be very radical. He asks: ‘Will the profession for example accept or even campaign for a 5% reduction in the salaries and pensions of its senior members so that more resources are available for tests and treatments of high value?'

‘I wonder how many of us would be willing to campaign for salary reductions for the overall benefit of society, yet we might actually be ‘better off' if this happened.'

GPs should take a pay cut 'for the overall benefit of society', Dr De Caestecker said

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