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NHS England says ‘too early’ to confirm if GPs face pay freeze

NHS England has said it is ‘too early to say’ if it would follow NHS Employers in proposing a pay freeze for GPs this year.

NHS Employers said this week that it will be giving evidence on the pay of NHS staff, including managers, nurses and hospital consultants this Friday. They said they will argue that a pay increase of 1% is ‘unaffordable and unnecessary for the NHS’ as it will add £500 million to the healthcare bill.

But – contrary to previous years – NHS Employers will not be giving evidence on GP pay to the independent renumeration review body in 2013.

Instead, the evidence will be provided by NHS England for the first time to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB).

Official figures released today show that GPs’ income dropped yet again in 2011/12, with GMS GPs seeing an average 0.7% decrease and PMS GPs a 1.6% fall.

An NHS Employers spokesperson said: ‘Our evidence relates to doctors and dentists employed in the NHS in England. NHS England will be providing evidence in relation to contractor GPs.’

An NHS England spokesperson said they would be making a submission to the DDRB on Friday this week, but said it was too early to say what they will be recommending on GP pay.

They said: ‘We will be submitting our initial evidence to DDRB by the deadline (Friday 27 Sept). However, it is too early to say what we will be recommending on GP pay as GP contract negotiations are on-going.’

NHS Employers added that they have been involved in ongoing negotiations over changes to the GMS contract, negotiating on behalf of NHS England. They have also been mandated by the Welsh Government to discuss some elements relating to the QOF on their behalf, but are not negotiating for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The news comes after health secretary Jeremy Hunt rejected a recommendation made by the doctors’ pay review body last March, for a 2.29% pay rise to cover expenses. He announced practices would only receive a 1.32% uplift in funding from April 2013, which equated to a cut in pay in real terms.