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GPs to get 2% ‘pay rise’ as Government moves to ‘multi-year’ negotiations

GP contractors will get a 2% pay rise backdated to April, the Government has claimed.

This includes the 1% pay rise already agreed as part of the contract negotiations – which had resulted in a 3.4% increase to practice funding.

The Government said that following the decision, the total funding uplift to the contract baseline was now 4.2%.

The Government added that there was also ‘the potential for up to an additional 1%, on top of the 2% already paid to be added to the baseline, to be paid from 2019/20’, but said this would be ‘conditional on contract reform, through a multi-year agreement from 2019/20’.

It said ‘this would be in addition to the funding envelope for the contract negotiation for 2019/20 onwards’ and ‘would be reflected in respect of GP remuneration, practice staff expenses and the recommended minimum and maximum pay scales for salaried GPs’.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said in a written statement that this was ‘the start of a process whereby we will seek to agree multi-year deals in return for contract reforms for consultant and GPs’. 

Mr Hancock said: ‘I intend to ask NHS England to take a multi-year approach to the GP contract negotiations with investment in primary care linked to improvements in primary care services.’

According to the statement, the 2018/19 pay award is ‘worth £2,000 per year to a GP contractor with a median taxable income of £100,000’ and ‘around £1,052 for a salaried GP with a median taxable income of £52,600’.

The Government said minimum and maximum pay scales for salaried GPs will also be uplifted by 2%, but not until 1 October. Meanwhile, the GP trainer grant and GP appraiser fees will be increased by 3%, it said.

The GP contract negotiations for England concluded with a 3.4% uplift to overall funding for 2018/19 – which included a 1% provisional pay uplift pending the report from the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration.

But the Government’s pay announcement appeared to be lower than the DDRB report, also published today, which said it recommended ‘for independent contractor GMPs an additional increase in pay, net of expenses, of 2% above our minimum pay recommendation’ of 2%.

Mr Hancock suggested the pay rise was limited by the need to expand the GP workforce.

He said: ‘GPs face a significant challenge in numbers and we need to recruit large numbers over a short period, meaning any pay rise needs to be balanced against our aim for a growing number of practitioners.’

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But the BMA, which had requested a GP pay uplift of of 2% plus RPI said it was ‘deeply concerned’ with the Government’s announcement.

BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It is deeply concerning that the Government has chosen not to honour the findings of its own independent pay review body across the entire NHS, but specifically for GPs.

‘The nation’s beleaguered family doctors and their hard working staff should be receiving at the very least, a 4% pay rise, as recommended by the pay review body, simply to keep services for patients running.

‘For a decade GPs have seen their real terms pay cut by over 20%, resulting in many GPs leaving the profession and doctors not wanting to become GPs.

‘For the new secretary of state to commit, only last week, to addressing the workforce crisis in general practice and raise hopes of investment in primary care, to now dash those hopes, will signal to dedicated GPs and their staff that they are not valued.’

Asked by the House of Commons Health Committee in a hearing this afternoon whether the pay increase, which is ‘less than the DDRB recommended’ and ‘less than inflation’ was going to be ‘enough to retain GPs’, Mr Hancock responded: ‘Well I hope so. It is a first step – I want to now have a wider conversation about a multiyear settlement and improvements to the contract.’

Welsh GPs also received a provisional 1% uplift from April, while in Northern Ireland an £8.8m funding uplift was awarded, with news on a GP pay uplift to ‘follow later in the year’ pending the DDRB report.

The pay uplift for Scottish GPs was also dependent on the DDRB recommendations, despite the introduction of a new Scottish GP contract from April.

Dr David Bailey, BMA Wales chair said: ‘Doctors in England will be bitterly disappointed with the UK Government’s decision to ignore the recommendations of the DDRB. This is the first time for several years that the DDRB has not followed exactly the Government’s advice on income policy.

‘BMA Cymru Wales is calling on the Welsh Government to take this opportunity to demonstrate how much they value the profession.’

Peter Bennie, chair of BMA Scotland, said: ‘Today’s announcement on doctors pay by the UK Government does not cover Scotland, where we await a decision from the Scottish Government.

‘The BMA has been clear that in England it is unacceptable that the policy of inflicting a real-terms pay cut on the majority of doctors will continue.

‘As a result, this presents a real opportunity for the Scottish Government to demonstrate how much they value the profession and take a different approach.’