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GPC pushes for pay uplift of 'several per cent'

Exclusive: GPC negotiators have confirmed they will be pushing for a pay rise for GPs of 'several per cent' in this year's contract talks in order to cover rising practice expenses.

The move comes despite the Treasury imposing a 1% cap on public sector pay rises, and the Department of Health scrapping the independent pay review for GPs once again this year.

The move comes as the GPC outlined a tough negotiating stance over GP rising workload, with chair Dr Laurence Buckman saying the GPC will argue for ‘no changes' to QOF this year.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley wrote to the Doctors and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB) in July and reversed a previous decision to allow the independent body to make recommendations on the expenses and pay for GPs from 2013/14.

He said there was a ‘well-established basis' for allocating the 1% public sector pay rise set by the Treasury for the next two years, and that the Department of Health will hammer out any uplift in pay or expenses through negotiations with the GPC.

The letter also hinted that further ‘quality and efficiency gains' might also be needed by GPs this year.

The GPC said they will argue that sticking to the 1% cap on public sector pay rises will, in effect, be a further pay cut for GPs, whose rising practice expenses have not been countered with a sufficient rise in practice funding for several years.

GPC negotiator Dr Chand Nagpaul, a GP in Stanmore, North West London, told Pulse: ‘The Government has to recognise that general practice has not been recompensed for rising expenses for years.

‘There is no point talking about an uplift before there is funding for expenses. It would just be a small offset. GPs would still experience a pay cut.'

‘We just want the same treatment as other doctors. If hospital doctors receive a 1% net increase, the only way GPs can have the same is if expenses are recompensed. I can't give an exact figure but it would certainly need to be several percent.'

But Dr Robert Morley, a GP in Birmingham and BMA council member, said the Government was unlikely to agree to the rise of up to 10% that was needed.

He said: ‘In order for GPs to get an actual 1% pay rise they would have to increase funding to practices by 5-10% and I can't imagine they will do that.

‘A 1% pay rise to GPs would effectively mean a pay cut with the increases we see to practice expenses. I am not optimistic.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Last year, the Chancellor announced that public sector pay increases would be capped at one per cent in 2013-15. This also applies to independent GP contractors. The negotiations on the full contract uplift are currently ongoing.'

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman also revealed negotiators would be arguing for ‘no changes' to the QOF next year, despite NICE recommending a raft of indicators are added and removed for 2013/14.

He said: ‘It is in nobody's interest to keep on having changes. The only change we would willingly accept is if the NICE evidence changes.'

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