Less really is more for GPs
A £15,000 pay rise for working four fewer hours a week? Sounds like the kind of deal loony left-wing unions used to set out at the beginning of pay negotiations before eventually agreeing something barely recognisable.
Yet apparently, a leading academic has told the Health Select Committee, this is exactly what the BMA wrung out of hapless ministers for GPs' new contract.
When asked whether GPs were now doing less work for more money, Professor Bonnie Sibbald replied, to gales of laughter from MPs, an unequivocal Yes.
So why are GPs not laughing over their outrageous good fortune?
Wide of the mark
Sure, there's no arguing about the pay rise. If anything, £15,000 is on the low side. But to claim GPs are doing less work is so wide of the mark it is almost comical.
Out-of-hours may have gone, but new requirements – notably endless box-ticking required by the QOF and practice-based commissioning – make running a practice more time-consuming than ever.
And that's before even considering the increasing demands of delivering high-quality clinical care.
The fact is, GPs are working longer hours in their practices and working harder while they're there.
Yet these arguments are unlikely to wash with the Government in future pay talks. Professor Sibbald predicted a 'period of austerity'.
For all the tough talk of GPC negotiators at this week's LMCs conference, that period is likely to last a good few years.