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At the heart of general practice since 1960

We will all be losers if seniority pay is scrapped

The Government seems to consider GP seniority payments an anachronism and wishes to stop them ('Ministers plan to abolish "inequitable" seniority pay'). This sets a dangerous precedent, on the divide and conquer principle.

When I was a young GP, I watched somewhat wistfully - or even wishfully - as my senior partner was given seniority payments. These payments reward loyalty and longevity and are nowhere comparable to consultants' merit awards in amount - an issue I have no complaint with. They are payments that will come to every GP equally in turn, and represent the Government's long-term investment in general practice.

It would be naive to find proposals to scrap seniority pay attractive because of the prospect that money would be divided more evenly among doctors, young and old.

It is no secret that the Government is looking for innovative ways to reduce payments to GPs. Changes to the GP Patient Survey recently achieved that, and it is exactly what will happen with seniority payments too. We will all be losers. Remember the old adage 'you get nothing for nothing in this life'.

Beware a politician promising more money to you now, if you are a young doctor. Cynicism may take time to develop but judge politicians from what you see and read, not what they promise you.

From Dr John Leonard

Falkirk, Scotland

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