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Pay fears on appraisals locum cover

By Ian Cameron

GP negotiators are to question the Government over funding for appraisals amid fears that the cost of locum cover has not been included in practices' global sum.

The alarm came after the Department of Health released details of £4.3 billion spending for PCTs next year to cover the new GMS contract and PMS GPs' budgets.

GMS GPs also started to receive details of their indicative global sum at the end of last week ­ two weeks after the original deadline.

GPs had been told appraisal costs would be included in their global sum, but £17 million of funding for the scheme was listed separately from resource allocations for PCTs.

The move has led to confusion over what the cash will cover.

GPC joint deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the figure was 'low' if it was meant to cover the entire cost of appraisal.

'We are checking it as we are not sure it's an appropriate amount. It's possible the £17 million is for paying appraisers and appraisees' pay may be built into the global sum,' he said.

'£17 million might be sufficient to pay appraisers but if it's the total it does seem low.'

Meanwhile, GPs who were first to receive their indicative global sums gave a mixed response to their budgets.

Dr Nick Cowland, a GP in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, said he would only get a pay rise of between 3 and 4 per cent even if his practice achieved between 700 and 800 quality points.

His four-partner practice requires a minimum practice income guarantee of £80,000.

'I'll be surprised if we get any more than 4 per cent, and that's for a substantial increase in workload,' he said.

Nottingham GP Dr Michael Leuty said he expected his income to rise by around 11.5 per cent.

But he said the four partners at his practice would have to cut drawings by 5 per cent during the year because practices have to wait until April 2005 to get quality achievement pay. 'It seems churlish to grumble at 11.5 per cent but it doesn't seem very much considering the extra workload.'

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