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Should GP pay be published? No

Dr Grant Ingrams argues that insisting on GPs publishing their individual income is a breach of our privacy and will serve no beneficial purpose for healthcare

The proposal following this year’s contract negotiations that English GPs will have to publish their income from their GP contracts from April 2015 is divisive, and is not in the best interest of general practice or the public.

If there were a fair comparison between GP income with other clinicians and senior managers GPs would be proven to be the cost effective resource that we are. The GPC says that the comparison will be on a ‘like for like’ basis, but are we confident that this will happen?

GP income not derived from the core contract includes private income from various activities, income from dispensing, providing other NHS services through enhanced services and other contracts, from premises, and the loss of opportunity due to the amount of money partners have tied up in their practices.  Once these have been taken into account I would suspect GP income would be more comparable to a Staff Grade rather than hospital consultant levels of pay.

Besides, why shouldn’t GPs be granted the same privacy regards their pay as other NHS workers? Unlike senior hospital consultants and other NHS body employees, GP principals are not directly paid for by public money, but receive funding to provide services on behalf of the NHS and keep any profit.

GP funding should be transparent, and the public have the right to know how much general practices are funded nationally and what services are provided for this. Little attention has been given, for instance, to the fact that the proportion of NHS funding supporting GPs in England has fallen from 10.4% in 2005/6 to 7.47% in 2012/13, with an absolute reduction in average profits.

The current situation must change, as the annual beanfeast by the Daily Mail and other newspapers when the HSCIC publish the latest GP income figures only undermines the profession, even though the typical reaction from my patients is ‘hope you are earning that doc, as you deserve to’.

If the Government really wanted the public to have a true picture of GP income they would have already insisted that the HSCIC replaced the annual disingenuous report with one that took into account all of the above factors.

So what is the purpose behind this? Does anyone really believe it is purely because the Government wishes to provide transparency? I suspect that this policy is purely due to the politics of envy. Every time I have heard an MP trying to justify their inflation busting 11.1% increase they have mentioned ‘but we will still not be earning as much as GPs’.

The only obvious true purpose is yet another attempt by Government to deliberately undermine GPs in the eyes of patients and the public in general. Following A&E-gate and CQC ‘maggot’ scare stories, if we publish our practice income we will practically be writing ‘greedy GP’ headlines ourselves.

And why does the Government want to undermine the most respected and efficient part of the NHS? Simple – it’s the fastest way to persuade the UK public that they no longer want the current model of GP services. If the public rejects us, the Government will assume their support for a replacement model, provided by centralised large primary care centres with little or no continuity, and run by private conglomerates.

General practice funding should be transparent, but must relate to how funding is received, and the amount of services that are provided. Insisting on GPs publishing their individual income is a breach of our privacy and will serve no beneficial purpose for healthcare

Dr Grant Ingrams is a GP in Coventry, GPC member, and vice chair of Coventry LMC.

Readers' comments (3)

  • Bob Hodges

    If they really want to compare practices, why not divide the NHS income for a practice (which THEY know) by the list size and publish 'funding per patient' lists. They don't need permission or a contract change to do that.

    That might be interesting, and lead the debate about where funding is best directed. It will alos show just how astonishly good value General Practice is. Perhaps people will start asking 'why does my rabbit cost £100 to insure when my GP gets £80.

    My Income, as Grant says, has nothing to do with healthcare.

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  • It is fine publishing GP incomes but what they don't publish is all the expenses taken out of that! Perhaps what they should publish is what the GP is left with after he has paid the surgery bills?

    Throwing figures around sounds great and everything believes the GP goes home with bulging pockets, but he does have to meet expenses which in some cases are very high and before you start, their is tax, insurance etc. which makes a gaping hole.

    In my world, what I get paid is what I am left with AFTER all the necessary bills have been paid. GP's work hard so why shouldn't they be paid well fro the years of training on poverty pay they have had to do.

    David Beckham got paid millions for kicking a ball around a field, don't hear anyone complaining about that! Doctors save lives, keep us well yet we winge about everything they do, time to get things into prospective!

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  • If this government want real transparency publish GP salaries, but also publish MP's salaries from all the paid 'roles' they hold, include what they get in expenses and perks of the job e.g. second homes etc. MP's might think they don't earn as much as GP's but they don't do many years of training, some of them don't even have a decent brain and some of them have never done a days work in their lifetime.
    Anyone can be elected an MP as long as you are good at dishing out bul£s%t, not one of them keeps the promises they make and they represent their own interests, not those of constituents.

    My local MP, in the twenty plus years I have lived in my property, I have never set eyes on him, he is too busty running into hairdressers shops to evade answering questions!
    Yes lets have transparency, starting with MP's!

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