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Hunt makes no promises to follow review body recommendation on GP pay

The health secretary has refused to commit to following the independent pay review body’s recommendation over GP pay in an exclusive interview with Pulse.

The Department of Health has told Pulse that a decision on GPs’ pay for 2014/15 is expected imminently, but GPs may face a below inflation rise after Jeremy Hunt failed to give a committment that he would follow the recommendations of the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB).

This follows last year’s process, when the Department of Health rejected the DDRB’s recommendation of a 2.29% pay rise to cover expenses and gave practices a 1.32% uplift in funding.

When asked by Pulse whether he was ‘able to make any commitment that you might follow [the DDRB recommendation] this year’, Mr Hunt replied: ‘I have to see what they say – I’ve made my case to them but I do have to see what they say.’

The BMA has called for GPs to receive an inflationary pay rise at minimum, but NHS England said in its submission to the DDRB in September that any increase will need to be within the pay remit set by ministers ‘of up to 1%’.

Last year, the Government had initially offered GPs a 1.5% uplift for 2013/14 in return for accepting a range of non-negotiated changes to the GP contract – terms which ended up being imposed after the GPC refused them.

These terms included a number of stringent QOF targets, many of which are set to be relaxed for 2014/15 in order to enable Mr Hunt’s ‘named GP’ policy.

A DH spokesperson told Pulse: ‘We expect the recommendation to come through either late February or early March. It will be a Government decision, once we have carefully considered the recommendation.