Ministers have recommended a pay rise of up to 3.5% for salaried GPs in their submission to the to the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB).
The Department of Health has submitted its recommendation to the DDRB, saying that funding ‘is available’ for pay awards up to 3.5% for ‘relevant staff groups’, but has warned that recommendations on salaried GP pay should be ‘informed by affordability and the fixed contract resources available to practices’ under the GP contract.
This year’s DDRB remit covers salaried GPs but partners again remain excluded due to the five-year contract that expires at the end of the next financial year.
The submission said: ‘Through the current financial settlement provided by HM Treasury to the department and reprioritisation decisions, funding is available for pay awards up to 3.5% for the relevant staff groups within DDRB remit this year.
‘Pay awards above this level would require trade-offs for public service delivery or further government borrowing at a time when headroom against fiscal rules is historically low and sustainable public finances are vital in the fight against inflation.
‘Recommendations on salaried GP pay should be informed by affordability and the fixed contract resources available to practices under the 5-year GP contract.’
In particular, the department said recommendations for salaried GPs pay should be made ‘in line with resources available to practices under the multi-year contract deal’ and should take account of ‘affordability in the wider economic context.’
The submission pointed out that in managing uplifts to staff pay from within the fixed GP contract envelope, there are ‘trade-offs for practices,’ for example between passing on the full uplifts to all staff, expansion of the general practice workforce and contractor GP earnings.
Ministers added: ‘These are challenging times for everyone, and our focus is ensuring a fair pay award that recognises the vital importance of public sector workers whilst minimising inflationary pressures and managing the country’s debt.
‘It is therefore essential that during this challenging fiscal and economic climate, pay remains fair but affordable.
‘We urge the pay review body to carefully consider the important balance between ensuring that existing funding can be used to deliver essential services, prioritising key commitments to improve care, and fairly rewarding staff.’
DHSC ministers and officials will be able to provide further information on affordability at oral evidence.
The BMA said the recommendation is ‘more than just insulting’ to thousands of NHS workers.
Professor Philip Banfield, the BMA’s chair of council, said: ‘With inflation running at over 10 percent and some NHS staff having to make use of food banks, for the Government to recommend such a low future pay offer and nothing on back pay, is far more than just insulting.
‘It not only fails to take account of the years of pay erosion – with some doctors having experienced real terms pay cuts of up to 35% – but such a paltry uplift may mean many NHS workers simply won’t be able to afford to stay in the job.
‘The offer is also significantly lower than regular pay growth in the private sector which most recent data, shows to be at 6.7%.
‘Now, more than ever, we need to see the pay review bodies show themselves to be truly independent of Government interference and to recommend an appropriate deal that takes account of pay erosion as well as future pay.’
In July last year, the Government accepted recommendations by the DDRB to offer salaried GPs a 4.5% pay rise despite partners being locked in the five-year agreement translating to only a 2.1% year-on-year pay rise, and the Government later confirming that practices would get no funding uplift to cover staff pay rises.