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More work, no more pay: Government reveals GP pay deal

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs have been handed a net pay freeze for 2011/12 after the Government revealed the details of this year's contract award agreed with the GPC.



In line with Government policy to freeze public sector pay, there will be no uplift to GPs' net pay in 2011/12 and primary care will have to stomach 4% efficiency savings over the next year.

But GPs have been handed a 0.5% increase to the overall value of GMS contract payments to take into account the increased cost of expenses, including pay increases for employed staff with a full-time equivalent salary of less than £21,000.

Significantly, the uplift will be delivered in England entirely through a 2.53% increase in the value of a QOF point (from £127.29 to £130.51) – with no increase to global sum payments or to the value of Directed Enhanced Services.

QOF points related to the patient survey have been scrapped, but GPs will have to meet new targets on reducing emergency hospital admissions and hospital outpatient referrals.

GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman, said of the deal: ‘Given the state of the public finances GPs, like other doctors, were not expecting a pay rise, but we are pleased the Government has recognised the need to increase practice expenses so that GPs can honour the commitment made to our lower paid staff.

'We are particularly pleased with the focus on encouraging practice patient groups and locally responsive surveys, as we have always believed these are the best ways for patients to effect positive change at their GP surgery.'

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the agreement would result in better care for patients and more effective use of NHS resources.

He said: ‘The agreement secures 4% efficiency gains from primary care, in line with the requirement for the rest of the NHS. Every penny saved will be invested back into patient care, including to directly improve further the quality of patient services in primary care.'

‘There will be no increase to GP pay in 2011/12. There will however be an expenses uplift of 0.5 per cent, largely to fund pay increases for practice staff earning less than £21,000 a year, in line with the Government's public sector pay policy.'

NHS Employers negotiator Stephen Golledge said: ‘Our calculations suggest that if all practices can mirror the same level of performance as the top 25% of practices in the way they refer patients to consultants, manage emergency admissions and prescribe, this would generate further savings of up to £800m a year.'

'These savings could be made available to fund other aspects of patient care, which can only be good news for patients, as well as good news for the taxpayer.'

Key changes

Quality and outcomes framework:
- 58.5 QOF points attached to patient experience of fast access and advanced booking (PE7 & PE8) removed
- Retirement of QOF indicators worth 32 points
- New clinical indicators recommended by NICE (for epilepsy, learning disability and dementia)
- Increase of upper thresholds of three QOF indicators by one percentage point (CHD6, Stroke6 and DM30)
- 96.5 of the QOF points released will pay for new quality and productivity indicators to reduce hospital outpatient referrals and emergency hospital admissions and more effective prescribing.

Directed Enhanced Services:
- Alcohol reduction, learning and disabilities health check and the osteoporosis diagnosis and prevention DES are to be renewed for this year
- Ethnicity and First Language DES will no longer be available from 1st April 2011
- Extended Hours DES will be extended by one year (to 31st March 2012), but with a reduction in payment