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GPs would face another pay freeze under a Tory government

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs will face a second pay freeze in a row, and the possibility of a review of their levels of pay and pensions compared with public sector workers, if the Conservatives come into power.

The Tories have pledged to freeze pay for everyone in the public sector earning over £18,000 a year in 2011/12, as part of a series of tough measures to salvage the country's economy.

The proposed pay freeze, revealed by shadow chancellor George Osborne at the Conservative party conference last week, would come into force the year after the one demanded by present chancellor Alistair Darling for the next financial year.

If both events occur, it will mean GPs will face two successive pay freezes in 2010 and 2011, making it five freezes in six years for many GPs, and amounting to a sharp decline in pay in real terms.

‘Our country is facing the largest budget deficit in our modern history and we will have no choice but tackle it decisively', Mr Osborne told delegates.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said pay and conditions for GPs and NHS managers were ‘very generous in comparison to the private sector' and ‘needed to be reviewed'.

Mr Lansley also set out his ministerial team's plans to ‘eliminate waste' by introducing NHS reforms to save £1.5bn a year by 2014, as well as moves to cut PCT administrative costs by over £2billion to return their budgets back to 2003-04 levels.

GPs spoke of their shock at the plans to freeze pay.

RCGP chair Professor Steve Field told Pulse: ‘The announcement came as quite a shock because we had not seen it coming. We know if primary care is adequately resourced outcomes in hospitals are improved, and health systems with strong primary care are more efficient, so it would be a real shame to take money out of primary care at this time.'

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