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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs need to engage their own spin doctor

From Dr Catherine Halliday,

Belfast

It was good to hear GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum recently giving a little positive spin on the radio and trying to present some of the true facts about

GP pay.

It is astonishing that

while the Government spin doctors have been working

very hard to blame us for everything that is wrong

with the NHS, GPs do not appear to have anybody out doing a PR job for them.

It is remarkable that 30,000 GPs cannot afford to employ two or three of the very best spin doctors available.

Perhaps a contribution

of £20 per GP would give

us a reasonable budget to employ some positive PR: £600,000 should go a long

way towards it.

I wonder if GPs realise:

a) that out of the putative £100,000 income that we earn on average, we are now paying £8,000 of this in extra superannuation, which is the employers' contribution previously paid for us by

our employing health authorities. Thus an average income of £100,000 is

actually an income of £92,000 – though this may not be apparent to many GPs as

they read their practice accounts;

b) that our consultant colleagues earn on average more than we do, and this is now confined into a 40-hour week.

I imagine that most

GPs such as myself, who

work full-time, are working probably a 55-hour week, without counting any on-call duties in order to earn this increased income.

Perhaps we should move to

a 40-hour normal working week, and then reprice the contract?

c) that we had a pay freeze in 2006/7, with another likely in in 2007/8. Moreover, while our income will remain stationary our expenses will inevitably rise with increasing staff costs, both because of incremental staff increases and also the extra staff needed to cope with our increasingly complex contract.

So we are now in a situation of having had three years of very real pay rises, but in 2006/7 and 2007/8 I would anticipate we have a pay cut.

Thus the Government is achieving its end, while spinning to imply the opposite.

Contrary to all the spin, the new contract has been an immense amount of extra work and stress for ourselves and our staff.

Moreover, I suspect we

have the best-treated diabetics and hypertensive patients

in the world, because of the way in which GPs are performing.

If only our patients knew how fortunate they were.

Regarding the pension-capping scandal, I would have thought the question here is whether a contract is a contract.

There has been a great quietness regarding the cap and I fear the GPC is selling us down the river on this issue, and giving out negative vibes about the chances of success.

A great negotiating tactic!

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