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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs working in new A&E 'streaming' centres to have pay capped at £80

Exclusive NHS England has instructed hospital trusts not to pay GPs more than £80 per hour to staff its £100m GP-in-A&E scheme.

NHS England said the cap was put in place to align with the 'indicative rate' for GP locums that was set last year, but GP leaders warned it would discourage experienced GPs from taking on the roles.

The news comes as NHS England announced a further 27 hospital trusts to receive a share of the Treasury-allocated £100m funding last week, having said it expects all 139 trusts to have set up GP streaming by next winter.

The news of the cap was unveiled via a Pulse investigation into the planning process at the first 70 trusts to be allocated funding.

Pulse asked how much they planned to pay GPs, what kind of cover was needed and how they expected to recruit GPs, finding that a majority were at the very early stages of planning despite the time limit. However, some trusts told Pulse that the pay rate was already determined in NHS England guidance at £80.01 per hour.

Asked by Pulse, the Department of Health confirmed that this was the case, and added that hospitals had to adhere to the cap in order to receive a share of the Government's overall funding for the scheme.

A DH spokesperson said: 'NHS England's advice to trusts was that, in defining the service, the rates of pay for GPs should be no higher than the NHSE guidance of £80.01 per hour.'

But this comes as for GP practices to date, the £80 top rate is merely 'indicative', meaning they can pay above this but must report it to NHS England.

Dr John Ashcroft, executive officer at Derby and Derbyshire LMC, warned that the cap would mean only newly qualified, inexperienced GPs would go for the roles, hampering the Government's hopes they would reduce pressure elsewhere in the urgent care system.

He said: ‘They’ll go native. They’ll revert to being casualty officers rather than acting as GPs because they haven’t had enough time and experience in general practice.’

In Derbyshire, most locums cost at least £80 per hour, with more experienced locums costing closer to £100 per hour, Dr Ashcroft added.

The investigation also revealed some detail about the level of cover needed. Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust has said ‘one or two’ GPs will be available in the A&E from 8am to 11pm daily. East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust has said each of its two sites will include GP cover from 10am to 10pm.

GP leaders have said the plan could make the situation in general practice worse and waste money.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, said: ‘At a time when practices are closing because they can’t recruit GPs, the Department of Health should be prioritising any available investment in to general practice, not establishing a scheme that attracts more patients towards A&E with the encouragement of being able to see a GP there.

‘This has the potential to make the situation worse not better, and waste £100m in the process.’

Pulse previously reported that it would require up to 420 extra GPs to implement.

When asked how it plans to recruit GPs, a spokesperson at Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust said they were unconcerned about recruitment as ‘GPs tell us they like working in A&E, and enjoy the teamwork and the type of medicine they can practise there’.

Readers' comments (39)

  • £80 per hour not enough!

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  • she may have ended up dementing and incontinent but Thatcher was so right when she repeatedly said you cant buck the market

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  • Bob Hodges

    That's still twice the average rate GP partners are able to pay themselves from GMS income.

    Even that rate, if it prompts some people to actually do some maths, will draw GPs out of where they are most needed (and most valuable) to the system as a whole.

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  • I am an experienced ex-partner and now a locum...I could not imagine charging as much a £80 per hour to practices.The indemnity issue could be a factor for locums though -if not part of the contract with hospitals.

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  • Cobblers

    Going rate in these (South East England) parts for a surgery with minimal pressure is £100+ per hour.

    That does not include On Call or Visits.

    ED at £80 per hour would not get a look in. Good luck with running that.

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  • That a communist health system needs to implement a communist pay strategy is not a surprise NHS comrades.

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  • nice to be reminded of our limited value. I would love to see the guidance pertaining to manager's pay or even better management consultants. still puzzled about where these doctors with extra capacity are going to come from between now and winter

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  • Be grateful!
    I'm an ex GP who now works full time as a Speciality Doctor in Emergency Medicine. I've just turned 60. Our locum rates are £60 an hour.

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  • One thing is certain - normal GPs will stay a mile away from A&E as 80 pounds an hour is something they can get easily in almost every GP surgery. Hopefully, A&E patients will find that Aunty May and Professor Hunt will be rolling up their sleeves to do the job for that amount when push comes to shove.Pity, all they are capable of doing is giving the proletariat enemas with gasoline.

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  • Why should you earn more per hour than the A&E consultants who will work alongside you. In an even more hard pressed and understaffed specialty.

    Do you think you're better. More deserving? Harder working? Or just a bit greedier?

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