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Hunt rejects DDRB recommendations and gives practices 1.32% funding uplift from April

GP practices are facing a real terms cut in pay this year, after the Department of Health rejected a recommendation from the doctors’ pay review body for a 2.29% pay rise to cover expenses and said practices would only receive a 1.32% uplift in funding from April.

The offer is less than the Government’s initial offer last year of 1.5%, and falls far short of the recommended 2.29% rise for GMS practices in England from the DDRB in its report to the Government.

The details were revealed in a written statement by health secretary Jeremy Hunt today that said while he accepted the recommendations from the pay review body on the rise in pay for salaried doctors and dentists, he would not honour their recommendations of a 3.4% uplift to GP funding to cover expenses.

The DH said that they will announce shortly how the uplift is to be allocated to practices, although it has already said it is looking at how to target it towards lower-funded practices.

Mr Hunt said: ‘I am grateful to the chair and members of the DDRB for their report.

‘We welcome the 41st report of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration and note its observations and accept the recommendation of a 1% increase in GP pay but abate the recommended allowance for GP practice staff costs from 3.4% to 1% to reflect public sector pay policy, giving an overall increase in GMS payments of 1.32% rather than the 2.29% recommended by the DDRB.

‘We will take forward DDRB’s suggested actions, which will help us continue to improve our support for the DDRB’s important work.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘We are clear that it is unfair for any NHS staff to be paid more than the one per cent increase given to all public sector workers. GP practices are independent businesses and free to set staff pay levels as they see fit. 

‘We are committed to making sure pay increases are fair and consistent across the NHS and will announce how the 1.3% contract uplift will be allocated shortly.’

Dr Robert Morley, executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, warned the additional funding would not be sufficient for practices to maintain current service levels.

He said: ‘As I wrote in an article for Pulse a few months ago, general practice would need a minimum 10% uplifit just to stand still. And at was before the imposition.

‘I suspect practices will be unable to maintain current services because of difficulties with recruitment and retention of GPs, nurses and other staff.

‘GPs will prioritise patient safety so patients will have to expect significantly reduced access for non-urgent care and enormous reductions in the depth and breadth of services offered by their practices as these are the only safety valves we have. There will inevitably be a knock on effect on secondary care so total NHS costs will increase accordingly.’

Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, said: ‘They have had a DDRB recommendation that they clearly didn’t like and decided to cut it back.’

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