Doctors attending the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting have voted in favour supporting GPs who refuse to declare their income.
GPs had to contractually declare income over £156,000 in 2020/21 by the end of April – including partners, salaried and locum GPs.
NHS England published guidance on the pay transparency requirement in March, after consulting with the BMA’s GP Committee and the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA) late last year.
This afternoon, representatives at the meeting taking place in Liverpool voted in favour of a motion which pointed out that ‘this is an arbitrary figure and a baseless request from the UK Government and NHS England’ which ‘solely seeks to undermine healthcare professionals’ and will exposes them to ‘further attacks’.
Proposing the motion, Dr Samuel Parker, from the BMA’s North East regional council, said: ‘I do not earn more than the Government’s arbitrarily imposed threshold but if I did, this sensitive personal information should only be disclosed to HMRC.
‘What a ridiculous suggestion by this Government to dictate that GPs must declare their income if they reach a specified level. Is such a bizarre policy in place for other dedicated public sector workers? Why single out GPs?’
He added: ‘This is a further governmental attack on GPs aimed to distract from the ongoing investigations into the ministerial mishandling of the Covid pandemic and crisis within the health and social care sector. It seeks to victimise doctors for the repeated failings of politicians.’
Dr Parker said that ‘such nonsense seems unique to the health service’ and is ‘akin to bulling and harassing dedicated clinicians’, which is likely to result into GPs reducing their hours to remain below the threshold.
Speaking in favour of the motion, Dr Manu Agrawal, South Staffordshire LMC chair, said: ‘This a way of vilifying the hard-working GPs and healthcare professionals, and taking the blame away from the politicians.
‘This is to feed the right-wing media and the population that the Government has done everything they can to support the NHS, including investing money, but it is the greedy doctors who are not delivering.’
He added that this was ‘a political move’ by the Government to put the public and patients ‘against their doctors’.
The motion passed in all parts, with 76% of members voting in favour of supporting any BMA members who refuse to declare their income.
In May, advice from Humberside LMC said that practices can wait to declare GP earnings over £156,000 until they receive a breach-of-contract notice.
NHS England failed to respond when asked by Pulse how it is going to enforce the pay transparency self-declaration process.
In its guidance, the BMA said that not declaring earnings above the threshold would put a practice, not the individual (unless a single-handed GP), in breach of their contract.
The BMA said that it understands NHS Pensions and HMRC data on earnings are usually anonymised before sharing with NHS Digital or NHS England, but that the union ‘cannot be sure that they cannot access identifiable data’.
The union also said that if a GP does not declare and is approached by the ICB or NHS England, they would expect evidence of why they believe the GP should declare and where they have got that information and that if this has been sourced through illegitimate means, it will be open to legal challenge.
The motion in full
NHS England confirmed it will ask GPs to declare their income over a pre-defined threshold. The Government have stated that they will look to introduce the same ‘pay transparency’ across other independent contractors in the NHS at the same time. That this meeting:
i) believes this is an arbitrary figure and a baseless request from the UK Government and NHS England which solely seeks to undermine healthcare professionals;
ii) believes such actions from NHS England exacerbates stress and will reduce work undertaken by healthcare professionals;
iii) believes that this exposes healthcare professionals to further attacks;
iv) supports any BMA members who refuse to declare their income.
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