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BMA calls for GP pay increase to relieve workforce crisis

The BMA is asking for GPs to get more money after capping their pay award at 1% meant they took home a pay rise 60% lower than other workers.

It warned the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) that a failure to address the decline in pay in 2018/19 would ‘worsen the current recruitment and retention issues’.

The BMA’s evidence submission is calling for doctors to get an increase in line with the Retail Price Index, plus 2% (or £800, if that is higher).

In January the Department of Health and Social Care indicated there could be some ‘flexibility’ around the 1% pay rise for public sector workers.

However limiting pay awards to just 1% meant doctors got about 60% less than people working in the wider economy, said the BMA.

It told the DDRB’s pay review that another ‘sub-inflation uplift will mean further degradation of the perceived value of doctors’ work’.

It pointed out that doctors have suffered ‘a significant fall in real income since the start of the last recession in 2008’ with GPs hit by a 20% cut, despite increased workloads.

Doctors in a GMS or PMS practice saw a 1.2% drop in pre-tax earnings to £90,100 between 2014 and 2016. Salaried GPs saw a 2.5% drop in their pre-tax pay to £55,800 for the same period.

‘Given that over the past year pay has been capped at 1% again, we would expect the decline in real incomes to have accelerated with continued negative impact on living standards, morale and recruitment and retention,’ said the BMA.

The rising cost of expenses also outstripped the 1% proposed pay increase with practices suffering ‘inadequate compensation’ for them, the BMA pointed out.

It called for an RPI plus 2% uplift of expenses in England, with the devolved nations negotiating directly with their governments.

The sector is also in the midst of a recruitment and retention crisis, losing 918 GPs in England alone between March 2016 and September 2017, and a quarter of Scottish surgeries reporting unfilled vacancies .

However, the proposed Scottish contract ‘explicitly does not address GP pay uplifts’, said the BMA. It said the DDRB should recommend a pay uplift.

The BMA rejected the review body’s recommendation to look at the salaried GP model contract, saying it did not agree there was any confusion about it. Instead it ‘represents good employment practice’, ensuring minimum common standards for GPs.

Note: This article was updated at 10.20 on 16 February to reflect that the BMA asked for an increase in line with RPI plus 2%, rather than RPI or 2%, as was previously stated.