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Cut GPs pay by 10% and charge for appointments, think tank argues

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs pay should be cut by 10%, with earnings supplemented by charging patients for appointments, a think tank has claimed.

A report by Reform said GPs, consultants and NHS managers had received pay increases least in-line with productivity gains, and called on the Government to renegotiate pay deals.

The paper, entitled ‘Back To Black', said introducing charges for visiting a GP could save the NHS £1.35 billion in revenue, and £0.29 billion from reduced demand.

It read: ‘The weight of evidence suggests that it is higher paid members of staff – i.e. registrars, consultants, GPs and managers – who have seen pay increases that are least in line with productivity gains.

‘The total pay bill of these groups is £13 billion. A 10 per cent reduction in these salaries would therefore save £1.3 billion. It would aid future reform by establishing the idea that pay should follow productivity.'

The report urged the Government to ‘reopen negotiations with doctors which completed on 31 March 2009'.

It said a system where ‘more of GPs salaries would be obtained from patients and less from the public purse' would save the NHS money to fund other parts of the health system.

User charges would also lead to a reduction in demand, which would, in turn save the NHS the costs of providing unnecessary services, the report claimed.

It added: ‘Britain is virtually unique in having no charge to visit a GP. User charges should be introduced and there should be greater reliance upon other health professionals (such as nursing staff and pharmacists) for treating less serious ailments.'

The report suggested that high risk patients such as children under 5 and people older than 65 could be exempt from user charges.

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