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Practices must provide hard copies of GP earnings information

Exclusive GPs must put up posters or have handouts available showing their practice income for patients who cannot access the practice website, NHS England and the GPC have said.

From April 2016, practices will have to have earnings information available online which gives the net, pre-tax earnings for an average GP in the practice, as well as the number of GPs currently working there for the previous financial year. This calculation only includes contractual income from NHS England, CCGs and local authorities.

But the GPC and NHS England have told Pulse that there will also have to be provision for hard copies of information to be made available for interested parties without access to the internet.

Publishing GP pay was included in the 2014/15 GP contract as part of a transparency drive to bring GP earnings in line with directly employed parts of the health service.

Negotiations over how GP expenses and earnings from non-contractual sources could be represented fairly have been ongoing, but the 2015/16 contract deal will push on with NHS England’s ambition to publish individual GPs’ pay from April 2016.

The 2014/15 contract stated that information abour practice funding would have to be made available online.

But the GPC and NHS England have confirmed practices will need to make information available for patients without access to the internet.

Speaking at the Pulse Live 2015 conference last week, GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘If somebody can’t access the internet practices will have to give the option of a hard copy, of giving them some kind of handout.’

An NHS England spokesperson also told Pulse: ‘The joint guidance from NHS Employers, NHS England and the GPC on the implementation of this year’s GP contract changes is not yet published, and will come out later this week.  However, the intent isn’t to be prescriptive on how GP practices provide pay information when requested in hard copy, so the guidance is likely to acknowledge it could be a paper copy, on a poster or by showing the patient the information posted on the practice website.’

The Health and Social Care Information Centre released the first publication of GP earnings in February, revealing that the cost of a GP for a whole year to the taxpayer was £136 per patient, which is less than a basic Sky TV subscription.

The GPC, which has reluctantly agreed to the publication, has warned it will not be useful or informative to patients. Opponents have also argued that it is a breach of GPs’ privacy.

Proponents of the publication, agreed in principle under the 2014/15 GMS contract, have argued that publishing individual pay would be helpful for GPs to prove a decline in net income after pension contributions and medical indemnity cover.

Please note – this article originally said that practice earnings will need to be published in hard copies from April 2015. This was not correct, and the article was changed at 17:00 on 24 March 2015 to reflect it will be a requirement from April 2016.