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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Damn lies and statistics

Statistics, and most particularly official statistics, are powerful things. So when gold-plated figures from the Information Centre were released last week, showing GP pay was rising inexorably, the national media had a field day.

Statistics, and most particularly official statistics, are powerful things. So when gold-plated figures from the Information Centre were released last week, showing GP pay was rising inexorably, the national media had a field day.

No matter that the figures date from 2005/6, are in line with long-predicted increases under the second year of the GMS contract, and have been followed by two successive pay freezes.

And here's another statistic for you. GPs are happy – far more so than back in 2000, according to another official analysis just presented as evidence to the pay review body by NHS Employers. These figures date back to 2006, when GPs were still basking in a residual post-contract glow, but that point was lost.

Not looking good

Not that all the figures released last week will be quite so easy for the GPC to explain, as it engages in what are bound to prove bruising pay negotiations. The numbers suggest GPs are reinvesting a smaller proportion of their income in their practices. It may be a gross oversimplification, but it doesn't sound good, and the GPC needs to do its homework to present a convincing explanation.

Ultimately, though, the most problematic statistic may not be any of those currently being spun against the profession, but one that suggests GPs may struggle to speak back with one voice. Partner pay up 10%, salaried GP pay up 3%, and signs the profession may be splitting into two distinct groups with conflicting agendas... the battle of the statistics is only just beginning.

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