This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Row over 'cynical' workload stats

The GPC has attacked the Department of Health for 'cynically manipulating' research in its evidence to the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body, writes Helen Crump.

The department claimed the weekly number of hours worked by GPs dropped by five-and-a-half between 2004 and 2005, and the number of GPs per 100,000 population increased from 56.8 to 64.9 between 1995 and 2005, while consultations per patient remained constant and GP morale increased.

The review body report does not specify the origin of individual statistics but says sources include the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre (NPCRDC) and the technical steering committee.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said the figures had come from 'unpublished, unfinalised work to do with a workload survey, details of which are confidential'.

He said: 'Not only do I feel it's a breach of confidence in the department acting and using that information, I think they have cynically manipulated that information in a way

to suit themselves.'

Dr Meldrum said the GPC would be taking the matter further. 'It's one of the aspects of this that we've been extremely unhappy about,' he said.

Dr Meldrum's comments came as confusion mounted over the source of the research.

A department spokesperson first said the research showing GPs' falling workload would be published in early summer. He later claimed it had come from the Manchester University- based NPCRDC's 2005 GP job satisfaction survey.

But Professor Bonnie Sibbald of the NPCRDC said: 'We did not produce that information.'

She said her research, stemming from postal surveys of GPs, had only revealed a four-hour decrease. This and the fact that GPs had reported a £20,000 pay increase were the only facts in the public domain.

A BMA spokesperson implied the five-and-a-half hour figure had come from work by the

technical steering committee.

Who got what pay rise

• Independent GMS contractors

0 per cent pay increase

• Salaried GPs

£1,000 increase to top and bottom of the scale for those employed by PCOs. No recommendation on annual uplift

• GP registrars

Supplement for new registrars to fall from 65 per cent to 55 per cent

• GP trainers' grant

2 per cent increase

• GP educators

2 per cent uplift to pay scales

• GP work in community hospitals

GPs should continue to negotiate their own fees

• Seniority payments

No increase

'A threat to future GP recruitment'

training

Disappointing pay increases for GP trainers and educators and a cut to the registrars' supplement could threaten future recruitment, GP leaders warn.

Last week's report from the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body recommended a 2 per cent uplift for the GP trainers' grant and for GP educators. The supplement for new GP registrars will be reduced from 65 per cent to 55 per cent.

The BMA had lobbied to keep the 65 per cent supplement and had wanted a 5.9 per cent increase in educators' pay.

Dr Richard Vautrey, GPC negotiator, said it showed trainers were 'undervalued', and 'their goodwill is taken for granted'.

He was 'desperately disappointed' by the supplement cut for new registrars but said existing registrars being able to keep the 65 per cent supplement was a 'crumb of comfort'.

Dr Steve Holmes, chair of the National Association of Primary Care Educators, described the decision as shortsighted: 'I think it's unfortunate given the increasing demands on trainers and educators. A lot of GPs are losing money for training the doctors of tomorrow.'

Dr Stefan Cembrowicz, a GP trainer in Bristol, said: 'I'm finding it hard to persuade my colleagues to consider taking up training, and this won't help.'

Dr Andrew Thomson, chair of the GPC registrar subcommittee, said cutting registrars' pay when expenses were increasing would discourage new applicants: 'It's a devastating blow to morale.'

GPs left to haggle over community hospital pay

other groups

The GPC has described the

Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body's failure to recommend on pay for GPs working in community hospitals as 'completely

unacceptable'.

Dr Peter Holden, GPC negotiator, said: 'This is the seventh year running they have fobbed us off.'

The BMA had called for a review of community hospital remuneration, arguing the last substantive review had been in 1979. But the review body's response was: 'Issues relating to the remuneration for this work are matters for local negotiation.'

Dr Mike Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance, said local commissioning of services would ensure community hospital GPs were paid the market rate: 'I'm in favour of people being paid according to their worth.'

The review body also did not recommend uplifts for seniority payments or for salaried GPs. However, it did recommend that the top and bottom of the salary range for salaried GPs employed by primary care organisations be increased by £1,000 per year.

GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey described the increase as 'very modest', and said leaving GPs to negotiate their own annual pay rises could cause problems as 'it puts salaried GPs in conflict with principals'.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, warned: 'Even this modest pay rise will throw additional pressure on GP employers who have had no rise at all.'

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say