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GPC demands review body ditch ‘disastrous’ method of determining practice funding

Exclusive The GPC has asked the independent pay review body to recommend an ‘above inflation’ funding uplift for GPs across the UK next year using its own discretion, instead of the formula traditionally used to calculate GP expenses.

In its evidence to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) on funding increases for 2015/16, the GPC said it will not recommend an alternative formula to the one currently used, contrary to previous statements.

Instead, it has asked the DDRB to use its own discretion without the ‘straitjacket’ of a funding formula by taking into account the growing recruitment crisis and the cutting of minimum price income guarantee (MPIG) funding, following a series of below-inflation recommendations.

The DDRB report from last year admitted flaws around calculating GP expenses and requested for new statistics to be collated in response.

However, the BMA has now said that it had ‘significant concerns’ over the bureaucracy involved in practices analysing their accounts for this purpose.

The GPC’s evidence said: ‘We have attempted to revise the formula used by the DDRB to translate its net income recommendation into a gross earnings uplift. However, we are unable to identify alternative indicators that produce better results, so this year we are asking to make a recommendation for gross earnings without the use of the formula.’

But it added that ‘it may actually be easier’ to make the recommendation without ‘the “straitjacket” of a formula’ that caused last year’s ‘perverse’ result, whereby the DDRB recommended an 0.28% gross funding uplift in order to produce a 1% increase in GP pay because the formula calculated that expenses had gone down.

The BMA said: ‘If other parties or the DDRB itself have suggestions for how to rework a formula, we would of course be very pleased to assist with this, but we do not believe this will now be possible for this round.’

The BMA further argued that the DDRB should award an above inflation increase, because ‘practice expenses have increased disproportionately to income’, quoting HSCIC statistics showing that expenses accounted for 62.5% of funding in 2012/13, compared with 59.3% in 2008/09.

It also dismissed the Governement’s suggestion that GPs, like all public sector workers, should receive a pay increase of 1%.

The submission said: ‘The BMA believes that doctors deserve an award in excess of inflation this year. We do not accept the Government’s pre-announced figure of 1%. We are not however including a specific figure we are seeking by way of a pay increase.’

It also warned that in light of for example shrinking QOF earnings and MPIG withdrawals, ‘without additional funding there will undoubtedly be a significant proportion of GPs who can only continue to deliver a full range of quality services by taking a very substantial cut in their personal income’.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We have said in our evidence to the DDRB that we believe we don’t need to use the formula this year, that they can simply made an award depending on expenses without using the formula. They can do that. It is in their gift to do that. They can use their independence, they are an independent body. They have seen the result of using the formula and it was a disaster, so I think, they cannot do that again. It would just compound one error with another.’

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