Exclusive There will be no adjustment to practice funding to enable them to adhere to recommended pay increases for salaried GPs and staff, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has told Pulse.
The uplifts agreed in the 2019 five-year GP contract deal for GP practices remain fixed, the DHSC said, despite the Government recommending a 4.5% pay rise for salaried GPs, and at least a £1,400 pay rise for staff.
While last week’s report from the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) had said it would not be making a ‘formal recommendation’ for groups under multi-year deals, such as GP partners, it had urged the Government to work with the BMA to ‘take action to address these issues’.
But a DHSC spokesperson explained to Pulse that the agreed investment envelope is fixed, and the core settlement covers all aspects of practice income and expenses, including salaried GP pay.
On background, the DHSC told Pulse the multi-year GP contract provides funding clarity and certainty to practices until 2023/24, and that employers have the flexibility to offer enhanced terms and conditions, for example, to aid recruitment and retention.
The DDRB was not asked to make a pay recommendation for GP partners as these are subject to a five-year investment agreement to 2023/24, it stressed.
A spokesperson said: ‘We are accepting the independent review body’s recommendation to increase the minimum of salaried GP pay scales by 4.5% in full.
‘The report considered a range of evidence from organisations, including the Government, NHS, trade unions, alongside factors such as inflation, the cost of living, retention and morale.
‘As self-employed contractors to the NHS, it is for GP practices to determine uplifts in pay for their employees within the agreed GP contract funding envelope.’
Dr Kieran Sharrock, BMA England GP committee deputy chair, told Pulse: ‘The Government has wilfully ignored the pay body’s recommendation to provide GPs who run practices with extra funding, meaning they have no additional means to meet even the meagre 4.5% uplift for staff, nor to pay for rocketing practice expenses as inflation bites.
‘That is not to mention the “pay rise” in fact amounts to the wages of hardworking staff being cut by more than 6% in real terms.’
He added: ‘Without offering adequate funding the recommendation to raise pay is simply insulting, and is adding impetus to the exodus of experienced doctors from the profession.
‘This sort of wilful obstinance shows just how completely out of touch this Government is with the experiences of those on the ground. Our message is clear: enough is enough.’
The BMA’s GP Committee, which was last week given a mandate to explore industrial action in response to the pay announcement, told Pulse yesterday that it remains in the early stages of preparations.
In February, the Government’s submission to the doctors’ pay review body said salaried GPs should receive a pay uplift of 2% this year.
Setting out the pay review’s remit in December, it had also said ‘affordability’ for practices must be taken into account when recommending a salaried GP pay rise.
Meanwhile, NHS England recently warned that it may need to make cuts to primary care funding if staff are awarded a pay rise of above 3% and it is not given more money to pay for it.
The five-year GP contract for England’s GPs, entered into in 2019/20, aimed to give GP partners a 2% year-on-year pay increase.
But, since then inflation has been running rampant and with the Government accepting a DDRB recommendation for salaried GPs to receive a 3% pay rise in 2021/22 and 4.5% in 2022/23.
Last year, the BMA said GP staff pay rise recommendations were an ’empty promise’ without additional funding for GP practices to pay for it.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) last week said that a ‘large rise in GP appointments’ was a main contributor to UK economic growth in May.