Exclusive GPs are likely to continue having annual independent assessments of their funding, after NHS England said that it ‘anticipates’ taking into account recommendations from the doctors’ pay review body when recommending contract funding increases from April.
NHS England – previously known as the NHS Commissioning Board – said it would ‘want to seek agreement’ on contract changes in future, but reserved the right to resort to the type of consultation exercise that led to this year’s contract imposition.
The confirmation from NHS England comes despite the Department of Health’s rejection of the body’s recommendation that GPs should get a 2.29% uplift in 2013/14 to cover rising expenses.
The GPC said that it was unlikely to make any difference to the deal that GPs should expect in future years.
NHS England will assume the role of contract holder from the Department of Health from April, and will continue to use NHS Employers as its negotiating party with the GPC.
A spokesperson said: ‘We anticipate that the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration will continue to make recommendations as it does now on GP pay.
‘[NHS England] will want to take those recommendations into account in making decisions on future contract uplift.
‘[NHS England] would want to seek agreement, where possible, to any changes to the contract. If agreement could not be reached, any changes to the contract would – as now – be subject to consultation.’
GPC chair Dr Laurence Buckman welcomed the commitment to continue using the DDRB, which he said is crucial for the profession to receive a fair pay review.
He said: ‘The point of the process is that it is an independent assessment of our worth. That is something I would insist on. This way we know who did it, we know where the body is and we know that the Government did it. Everybody knows that the Government interfered with the DDRB.’
But he said that he did not think NHS England would be ‘any more reasonable’ than the DH.
‘No,’ he said. ‘Because the mandates will still be set by the Government.’
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