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At the heart of general practice since 1960

DH recommends partner pay freeze

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Department of Health has bowed to the Treasury's demands by recommending a 0% net pay uplift for GPs, claiming it had seen ‘no compelling evidence' to justify a pay hike.

In evidence submitted to the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body, the DH said a gross uplift of 0.5% would produce a 0% increase in net payments to GPs.

However, for salaried GPs employed by PCTs or other NHS organisations it recommended an uplift of up to 1% 'in line with non-consultant hospital doctors'.

The DH said its proposals were informed by the urgent need for public sector pay restraint in the midst of the recession, and cited healthy recruitment, retention and morale among GPs as further justifications for the freeze.

It also said GPs had greater scope than other doctors to increase earnings through enhanced services and QOF.

But the BMA – which has called for a minimum 2% uplift in GP pay - said the Government's submission failed to represent the true picture on the ground.

‘They wouldn't see it [low morale] because they don't look for it. This view does not appear to be accurate compared to our list of experiences of how GPs feel,' said GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman.

Meanwhile, NHS Employers said in its evidence that an award of 1% applied to GMS gross contract values in 2010/11 would also result in a 1% net uplift to GP pay.

Its submission said GPs should be required to make efficiency savings ‘of at least 1%' as part of wider belt-tightening across the NHS, and rejected claims that GP expenses had risen significantly over the past year.

‘Practices have not provided evidence to support this assertion,' its submission said. ‘One PCT reported that its LMC surveyed local practices about cash flow issues but did not receive any firm evidence of increased costs.'

But Dr Beth McCarron Nash, GPC negotiator and a GP in Honiton, Devon, said the DH and NHS Employers' recommendations would not cover staffing and expenses costs.

‘We can't ask staff to work harder and harder, with the flu pandemic on the verge of potentially being a real issue, without rewarding them appropriately,' she said.

Dr McCarron Nash added that it was unrealistic for GPs to take on any additional enhanced services to supplement their income.

‘I'm at a loss to know how practices can do anymore - most are already working at full capacity and already provide enhanced services. Just expecting GPs to do more for less is wholly unacceptable.'

The Department of Health has called for GP partner pay to be frozen The Department of Health has called for GP partner pay to be frozen

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