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Negotiators quash GP fears on correction factor demise

The GPC and NHS Employers have furiously denied that they have agreed to phase out the correction factor that protects GPs' basic income from next year, write Rob Finch and Ian Cameron.

Negotiators moved to quash worries among GPs after reports suggested the mimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) would end from April 2007.

Around 90 per cent of practices are reliant on the MPIG, with some getting correction factors running into six figures.

Both sides' negotiating teams said the long-term aim remained to reduce the reliance on the MPIG ­ but were adamant no GPs would lose out.

In a joint statement, they said the fundamental guarantee of income protection would remain 'for as long as it is necessary and appropriate'.

The statement said: 'All that has been agreed is that we would seek, if possible, to find a way to reduce the reliance upon MPIG ­ and that with sufficient resources we would increase the global sum to a greater degree than the correction factor.'

A BMA spokeswoman said reliance on the MPIG would only end when the Government 'put so much money into the global sum that we won't need it'. She said: 'We are adamant that there is no agreement to end the correction factor.'

GPC negotiators promised when the MPIG deal was struck in 2003 that GPs' income would be protected 'in perpetuity'.

Negotiators have also indicated recently that they agreed to a freeze in global sums and quality pay this year in order to draw a line under Government efforts to cut GP pay amid accusations of 'overdelivery'.

Dr David Love, chair of GPC Scotland and a member of the formula review group, said it would be 'unacceptable' to negotiators for core funding to go into the global sum and correction factors be reduced. 'That would mean there's no new investment,' he said.

David Noblett, lay secretary of Lancashire LMCs, said GPs had been left 'extremely anxious' at reports in GP magazine that the correction factor was about to be phased out.

The MPIG was introduced after it became apparent that the Carr-Hill formula left almost all practices worse off.

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