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The pay review body’s vindication of GPs will pay dividends in time

The DDRB's acceptance of the BMA's argument will make it harder to clamp down on GP pay in future

By Richard Hoey

The DDRB's acceptance of the BMA's argument will make it harder to clamp down on GP pay in future

GPs probably weren't partying long into the night, swigging champagne and burning piles of cash after yesterday's 2.29% uplift on the GMS contract.

But while the increase translates as only a 1.5% rise in pay, that's still 1.5% more than most GPs have enjoyed in recent years.

The BMA's demand for a 4% uplift had become a fantasy given the desperate state of the economy, and most GPs seem to have greeted the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body's decision with quiet satisfaction.

And actually, the news is better than it seems. It's not just that the pay review body rejected Government attempts to restrict any rise to as little as 0.4%.

It has also accepted two key tenets of the BMA's evidence which will make it much more difficult for the Government or NHS Employers to attempt to unreasonably squeeze GP pay in future.

First of all, the DDRB made clear that it did not believe it was possible for GPs to keep on shaving savings from their expenses bill, year after year.

It found the ratio of expenses to earnings was already returning to its traditional 60:40 split and that it would not be ‘appropriate' to factor further efficiency savings into the pay deal.

Secondly, the pay review body was sceptical about claims from the employers that GPs would be getting a rise anyway because of all the new work coming their way.

‘Our view is that additional work is not guaranteed for all practices,' it said.

The supposed jump in enhanced service cash, which in fact has just double-counted money set aside for extended hours, did not impress the body's members.

In the fantasy world of NHS Employers, a GMS uplift of just 1.5% would have given a pay rise of 2%.

Back in the real world, though, the pay review body reckoned GPs would need a 2.29% uplift on the GMS contract for the 1.5% pay rise.

So, no fantasy savings and no fantasy new work. That's not a bad manifesto for future pay reviews and one that could just see GPs get a fairer deal in the coming years.

By Richard Hoey, Pulse deputy editor

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