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GPs go forth

Row over quality pay in Scotland and Wales

By Brian Kelly

GP negotiators have sparked a row after claiming that Scottish GPs will be overpaid for quality work under the new contract ­ and those in Wales and Northern Ireland underpaid.

The GPC negotiating team made the claim after the Government forced through a deal to adjust the basic £75 payment per quality point on a country-by-country basis ­ rather than using UK-wide prevalence data as demanded by the GPC.

The payment per point will be calculated by comparing practice prevalence of a given disease against the average prevalence for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

GPC joint-deputy chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said the deal meant Scottish GPs would get more money than English GPs for the same work ­ and GPs in Wales and Northern Ireland would lose out. He added: 'There will be absolute fairness between practices in Wales, but there might not be between one in Wales and one in Scotland.'

GPC Wales chair Dr Andrew Dearden said: 'In Wales disease prevalence is higher than the UK average ­ so our bar is set two inches higher than everyone else's for the same reward.'

He added: 'Why would any GP come to work in Wales if they are paid 10 per cent less?'

A BMA spokesman said the fears over winners and losers were based on 'informed opinion' about variations in disease prevalence across the UK.

But GP leaders in Scotland reacted with fury.

Dr David Love, joint-chair of the Scottish GPC, said the claim that GPs in Scotland would be 'relative winners' was 'idle and pointless'. He said: 'We don't know what the national prevalence rates are. This is pure speculation.'

Dr Andrew Kilpatrick, a GP in Fife and a member of the Scottish Executive quality and outcomes national working group, said Scotland was the 'heart disease capital of Europe'. He added: 'The prevalence figures have not been agreed in Scotland. Claims that GPs here will be better paid seem like putting two and two together to get seven.'

Velda Osborne, head of morbidity and health care at the Office for National Statistics, said there was no up-to-date information on disease prevalence in the UK and an ONS report was rushed through using six-year-old data to meet a Government deadline.

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