NHS England’s suggestion that GP practices should seek to make further efficiencies rather than expect a pay uplift this year undermines claims by its chief executive that NHS managers are looking to boost general practice, the GPC has said.
Responding to NHS England’s evidence to the Review Body on Doctors and Dentists Remuneration (DDRB), GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said GPs had made all the efficiencies they could without undermining patient care.
NHS England’s submission, published last week, suggested GPs could ‘choose’ to cut expenses by working at scale or employing additional support staff, such as clinical pharmacists, to take on work and increase profits.
It said the DDRB should consider ’what, if any’ funding uplift GPs should be given, further warning that contractor GPs may not pass on any increase to salaried doctors and would thereby exacerbate the crisis in recruitment of salaried GPs.
But the GPC has slammed NHS England for trying to limit a pay increase for general practice, pointing out its own chief executive Simon Stevens has said the historic underfunding needed addressing.
Dr Nagpaul said: ‘It is ridiculous for NHS England to suggest that GPs should be seeking to find further efficiencies when many practices are badly overstretched as a direct result of years of underinvestment.
‘This suggestion undermines what Simon Stevens himself has been saying about the need to address this longstanding underinvestment in general practice. The fact that GP incomes have fallen year on year, with evidence of a 25% cut in real terms GP incomes since 2005/06, is clear evidence that practices have made all the efficiencies that are reasonably possible without putting patient care at risk.
‘NHS England should be recognising this difficult financial climate rather than pushing ahead with suggestions that will further damage morale and its own efforts to remedy the recruitment and retention crisis facing the GP workforce.’
This follows health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s remarks at the Conservative party conference this year, that ‘successive governments’ had refused to invest in general practice as ‘penance’ for the 2004 GMS contract.