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Nine GPs in ten will get third successive pay freeze

By Steve Nowottny

The vast majority of practices will see their income frozen for a third successive year under the official Government pay award.

The Department of Health this week accepted in full recommendations from the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body, advising a 2.7% rise in the global sum but no increase in funding for the MPIG.

Ministers say the award represents an overall increase in global sum funding of just 0.2% – with the 90% of practices that rely on the MPIG set to get nothing.

The 0.2% average increase will come out of the 1.5% additional investment in general practice – equivalent to £105m – promised by the Government as part of this year's contract deal. But, as previously revealed by Pulse, GPs will have to provide additional services in order to earn the remaining 1.3%.

The DDRB report admits: ‘Most practices will not receive any increase in pay as a result of this increase in the global sum.'

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the news was ‘a further slap in the face for GPs and a further significant erosion of the deal the Government agreed to just four years ago'.

The DDRB report adds: ‘Common sense suggests that GPs' expenses are subject to inflation like everything else and they cannot continue indefinitely to reduce them as a proportion of practice income.'

As Pulse reported in January, a large proportion of the £105m uplift – an estimated £41m – will be tied to initiatives on access and patient experience, organised at a PCT level.

But GPC leaders have secured one concession, with £50m to fund new clinical work. Negotiators have yet to thrash out the details with NHS Employers, but are expected to push for funding in osteoporosis, peripheral arterial disease and heart failure – the areas originally earmarked for around £41m of investment in this year's QOF.

But Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC deputy chair, warned the pay announcement would be a further crushing blow to GP morale, already undermined by the extended hours dispute and plans for polyclinics and private sector competition. ‘GPs will be very disappointed with a below-inflation rise when expenses are rising well above inflation.'

Health secretary Alan Johnson said: ‘We want to make sure GPs work reasonable hours and are fairly rewarded, but this must be matched by further improvements in services.

GPs in Scotland will also receive an average 0.2% increase in funding, and a total additional investment of 1.5%, but GPs in Wales and Northern Ireland have yet to be told if a similar uplift will apply to them.

Dr Hamish Meldrum: most GPs face third pay freeze in a row Dr Hamish Meldrum: most GPs face third pay freeze in a row Cash

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