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Ministers plan to abolish 'inequitable' seniority pay

By Lilian Anekwe

Ministers are proposing to scrap GP seniority payments, claiming they are unfair and contribute to inequitable funding of practices.

The Department of Health has submitted evidence to the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body saying it is ‘considering the appropriateness of seniority payments' as a means of creating ‘more equitable funding of GP practices'.

Seniority payments were negotiated as part of the 2004 GMS contract as an incentive to retain experienced GPs in the NHS and are particularly aimed at GPs approaching retirement. They are intended to reflect length of service.

A GP in their 40s earns about £4,000 a year in seniority payments with some GPs earning up to £10,000 a year. The payments are worth about £80m a year to general practice.

But the DH submission states they are ‘at odds with a practice-based contract', adding: ‘The review body has raised concerns in the past about effectiveness of seniority payments, particularly whether GPs in receipt of them were more productive.

‘The DH is considering this as part of wider steps to move towards more equitable funding of GP practices in negotiations with the BMA.'

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman said: ‘We have no plan to look at seniority. If the DH does we'll have to discuss it then, but we're not seeking it out.'

But Pulse revealed in April that the GPC had discussed negotiating on a range of options, including moving seniority pay into the global sum as an incentive for partnerships or giving it to non-principals.

Dr Parag Patel, a GP in Paisley, Renfrewshire, said: ‘I'm only just getting decent seniority pay after 20 years of breaking my back in the NHS. It's an important part of our salary.'

The Department of Health is 'considering the appropriateness of seniority payments' The Department of Health is 'considering the appropriateness of seniority payments'

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