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GPs go forth

GPs ‘unfairly punished’ on funding, BMA tells DDRB

The Government’s funding restraints are ‘unfairly punishing’ GPs at a time when they are working ‘harder than ever’, the BMA has said.

Writing in its submission to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB), the BMA said the increase for 2015/16 should be treated in line with the ‘wider economy’ rather than the Treasury’s blanket 1% public sector pay directive.

It comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt claimed that years of underfunding in general practice was a result of ‘penance’ for the 2004 GP contract. 

The BMA evidence highlighted the significant problems of workforce and morale, and the continuing decline in funding allocated to general practice as a proportion of the total NHS budget.

The submission said the BMA is ‘increasingly concerned’ over the DDRB’s ability to ‘exercise its independence’ from Government.

It also said last year’s recommendation – which saw the DDRB refrain from making a UK-wide recommendation on a gross GP funding increase – was ‘extremely disappointing’ and requested a return to making recommendations on gross earnings in this year’s review.

The submission said: ‘We believe that doctors are being unfairly punished by government when pay rises above 1% are regularly being seen across the economy, and at a time when doctors are working harder than ever to deliver a safe and quality service to patients.’

According to the BMA, whose evidence included Pulse data showing one in 10 GP partner posts is vacant in the UK, the DDRB should take a ‘bottom up’ approach to next year’s recommendation, basing it on ‘what award is needed to recruit, retain and motivate doctors’, rather than being bound by Government-stipulated affordability constraints.

The submission states that in the light of continued low fill rates of GP training places, general practice recruitment problems ‘will continue to worsen’, and that Treasury pay policy will ‘tip the balance’ in recruitment across all specialties.

The BMA also highlighted the Government’s plans to recruit 200 US-trained physician associates at salaries of £50,000 as a ‘significant concern’, arguing that ‘to achieve the same level of salary and terms and conditions would take a UK-trained doctor 10 or so years’.

The evidence concluded: ‘We ask that DDRB asserts its independence to make a full set of recommendations… We are not proposing a specific figure for the 2016/17 pay award, but we argue that doctors should be treated in line with the wider economy, where pay settlements are running at higher than the public sector pay policy cap.’

Mr Hunt said at the Conservative party conference: ’Labour signed a disastrous contract in 2003 and since then, in penance really, the NHS has not really wanted to put extra money into general practice and it been has starved of resources progressively, with increases in hospital doctors but not increases in primary care doctors.’

Readers' comments (29)

  • I would like to see the comparison side by side of what DDRB suggested should happen to GP pay and what has actually happened.

    Perhaps that should be taken in to account when making an uplift,.

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  • Well, Jezza did say " in penance". Why is anyone surprised. Anyone on here looking to go into some kind of business outside medicine? I am open to suggestions.

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  • Don't refer to him as "Jezza" - it suggests a fondness very little of us feel. His name is Hunt. The "penance" admission was the most cynical, shameless and downright insulting episode in medical politics that I can remember.

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  • hunt wants to punish gps

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  • Bob Hodges

    I'm surprised that the BMA hasn't jumped all over the 'Penance' admission.

    As far as I'm concerned, from now on, it will cost a Conservative government more to retain my services and goodwill than it would a Labour know, like in 'penance'.

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  • Remember 'we are all in it together'? Austerity is being paid for in public sector pay cuts and cuts in services not improved efficiency. The problem is that according Keynsian economics for every pound you cut in wages you lose a pound in tax revenue so the cuts are not reducing the deficit. Remember Osbourne said that we would be in surplus by now. The public sector is being smashed to make the richest 1% richer.

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  • The sky is above the ground ..gee ..hold the press headlines for stating the obvious but who is listening and does anyone who makes decisions really care
    Hello ...

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  • Let the DDRB just reimburse the 8000 + annual increases in Indemnity costs or let the governement give us crown indmenity as across secondary care. Why this step relationship with general practice? Are privatization and having a yatch docked in Monaco's bay more important to Hunt and colleagues than the lives of ordinary citizens/patients who voted them in?

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  • i used to earn around 170k p/a . i am retired now. it is pitty now average gp pay is 100k. mps/mdu fee has gone up. hospital are transferring work load to gp's. gp's are reducing staff or staff hours. it is very very sad. now 7 days service. time to leave country i think.

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  • @6:01- With 170k pa I would be lazin on the beach sipping rum n cola. Dunno why u still here, sure u earned 170k in pound sterling and not yens

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