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Practice managers expect crunch to hit pay and profits

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs are set to face a further drop in income and extra staffing pressures in the face of the economic downturn, practice managers are warning.

In a survey by Management in Practice - 70% of respondents said they expected to see a drop in their practice's profits next year.

Half of the 220 practice managers who took part said their surgeries had seen a fall in income since last year. Many reported this was due to rises in expenses - driven largely by energy costs and staff salaries.

Concern was also expressed over increased demand for GP services, with more unemployed, stressed and depressed patients seeking treatment.

Most respondents cited energy costs (39%) and staff salaries (35%) as the biggest reason for the rise in expenses in the last year.

More than half (51%) said their staff costs, as a percentage of the practice's overall expenditure, had increased when compared with the previous year.

The survey also suggested that practice managers were working longer for no extra income as a result of extended opening hours. Some 41% of respondents said they were working longer hours for the same pay compared to last year. In contrast, only 11% said they were being paid more for longer hours.

One in five managers said their practice had cut the level of staff salary increases this year. Some reported GP partners were only able to afford any pay rise for staff at all by taking a cut in their own incomes.

The BMA acknowledged concern at the findings. A spokesperson said: ‘We agree that the downturn will have an impact on general practice. There is likely to be an increase in consultation rates, and pressure from government to avoid inflationary rises in public-sector pay could limit practices' ability to expand their workforce sufficiently to meet demand.'

Practice managers expect the recession to hit GP practices pay and profits next year

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