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Will publishing earnings backfire on GPs?

NHS England is pushing ahead with plans to compel GPs to publish their individual earnings, but will it backfire on the profession, asks Alex Matthews-King

My earnings this year were 70K-online-GP contract-330

GPs will have to publish their individual net earnings from 2016/17 under radical plans to increase transparency, revealed by NHS England.

Practices will be required to publish a single figure showing the average earnings for GP partners and salaried GPs on their website by April 2016, as part of the 2015/16 contract deal.

But NHS England said this was an ‘interim solution’ before it pushes ahead with ‘publishing individual GP net earnings in 2016/17’.

The formula for calculating GP earnings has been the subject of negotiations between the GPC and NHS England since the requirement to publish pay was announced in last year’s contract.

The 2015/16 GP contract in England says practices must publish the mean practice earnings per GP – including salaried GPs and locums working in the practice longer than six months – for contractual income from NHS England, CCGs and local authorities by March 2016.

Income from premises and employee superannuation payments will be exempt. The GPC and NHS England are negotiating over the final dataset to be included.

Alongside the mean figure, practices will publish the number of full and part-time GPs associated with the published figure. However, Pulse has learned the average figure will not take into account the hours that part-time GPs work, meaning practices where part-timers work more hours will be seen as higher earning overall. 

In a letter to the profession, GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the concept of publishing pay was more ‘fair’ than the estimates that are currently published. The most recent figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre show average GP partner pay at £102,000 in 2012/13 and salaried GPs earning £56,000.

He said: ‘This will provide a much fairer indication of GP NHS contract earnings than the figures currently published annually by the HSCIC, which include NHS income unrelated to the contract as well as private income, and which have resulted in exaggerated headlines in the media.’

But a letter from NHS England to area teams states: ‘This is an interim solution until arrangements are finalised for publishing individual GP net earnings in 2016/17.’

‘Publishing pay will shock the public’

Dr Tracey Vell, honorary secretary of Manchester LMC

Dr Nagpaul said there was no agreement to publish individual earnings from 2016. He said: ‘We have not got to that point. The arrangement at the moment is that it is not named, not individual, but will strip away all the inflated sums of money including non-NHS money that are currently promoted as part of GP pay.’

Dr Tracey Vell, honorary secretary of Manchester LMC, criticised the plan. She said: ‘Publishing pay will shock the public and, although it will backfire on politicians, is also a pointless exercise.’

Bob Senior, chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants and head of medical services at Baker Tilly, warned the plans could have unexpected consequences.

He told Pulse: ‘Publishing GP income could give some very unwelcome results.

‘In some areas, doctors are on quite low salaries because there is a very unequal market. So, all of a sudden, populations that are currently difficult to doctor will have no winners – because they’re not going to attract GPs.’


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Readers' comments (29)

  • Surely this is a gross violation of personal privacy? We are not the CEOs of large corporations on over-inflated salaries. Do I not have any legal rights to confidentiality?

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  • I am absolutely outraged that my privacy can be forcibly invaded. This is just going to fuel the GP hatred as the public aren't going to sit and think, 'wow, that GP must work really hard and run their business very efficiently'. There will be outcry regarding 'overpaid' GPs with absolutely no understanding of what the job of a partner entails.

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  • The BMA should have said 'only over our dead bleeding bodies'. They didn't. The BMA should have said we will advise all our members not to comply. They didn't. So, I left the BMA years ago and shed no tears.

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  • Maybe it will help our cases if people can see how much we are actually paid, rather than the fantastical wages that adorn the newspapers front pages? I don't think most people with begrudge us our salaries for the work we do.

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  • Dear colleague at 5.25pm - while your faith in the beneficence of human nature is rather touching, in the real world anyone earning over £40K is considered rich by the average member of the public. Their GP taking home £80-90k will not warm their hearts, rather it will fuel what they call 'wage envy', as to the average Joe public this sum would be seen as a kings ransom. Once blinded by wage envy, the afflicted will lose all sense of rationality - comparing this to fat-cat corporate types, bankers or sport stars, despite these others earning the GP annual salary in a month, in some cases a week. No, we will be all grouped (tarred) together as one (with the same brush). If you don't believe take a look at the average quoted GP salaries already quoted in the media, which are not far off the mark (DM apart), and see the average response from the public about this on open forums such as BBC website.

    Us publishing the figures is likely to be a provocative move- akin to Harry Enfields 'loadsamoney' character from the 80s. I see no justification for this move on both a privacy and ethical principle. The GPC have been pathetic to say the least in even letting this proposal getting anywhere near the negotiating table. But I suppose this was the trade-off for getting us to do the unplanned admission avoidance DES!! what a great result -NOT!

    Disillusioned GP Partner (1.5yrs)

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  • Left the BMA fairly recently. I can't see how this is actually going to help
    Anyone and I would like a little more privacy when it comes to my earnings. I don't want people making judgements about me based on earnings. I would strongly reccommend this be taken out of the contract and scrapped immediately unless someone can give me over good reason for keeping it in!

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  • Chaand Nagpaul - it's about what isn't in the contract, not what is

    David Geddes - it's not about practice closures, but about great patient care.

    With this lot at the helm, what chance have we all got

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  • Just publish any figure you want - after all the Daily Heil does.

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  • also publish hours worked?, patients seen?, pay per patient?

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