CCGs should fund an additional 1% funding uplift to the GP contract to help practices award the 3% pay rise received by equivalent staff in the rest of the health service, the BMA has said.
In a letter to CCG chairs, BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey asked them to consider making a ‘one-off’ payment to practices to help them match the 3% pay increase offered to staff on ‘Agenda for Change’ contracts.
He said that practices are already struggling to retain practice staff, yet have only been funded for a 2% pay increase.
Under current Government plans, practices will receive an additional 1% increase to their funding increase contingent on ‘contract reform, through a multi-year agreement from 2019/20’.
Dr Vautrey encouraged CCGs to instead stump up the 1% increase now, which he says should be backdated to April 2018, to be used to fund pay rises for practice staff.
Dr Vautrey wrote: ‘I am writing to you to seriously consider funding the additional 1% of the GP practice pay award backdated to April 2018 rather than from April 2019, so ensuring that every GP practice in your area can make a 3% uplift to practice staff this year.’
Dr Vautrey said practices should receive the funding this year as the retention and recruitment crisis could otherwise be exacerbated by a difference in pay between staff on the Agenda for Change and the GP practice workforce.
He wrote: ‘As a CCG you will have committed to fund the agreed uplift for all staff on the Agenda for Change contract and I therefore hope you can see how important is is to do the same for all staff working in GP practices. The GPs and practice staff in your area deserve nothing less.’
Independent contractors and salaried GPs in England were awarded a 2% pay increase in July, falling short of the total 4% recommended by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) report.
This was despite GP practices in Scotland receiving a 3% pay rise and the Welsh Government fully endorsing the DDRB’s recommendations, awarding practices a total 4% uplift, backdated to April 2018.
Commenting on his letter, Dr Vautrey said: ‘General practice is in the midst of a recruitment and retention crisis, not only impacting doctors, but for many areas of the country it is just as acute, if not more so, for their practice staff.
‘As some of these staff see their NHS colleagues, many of whom they work alongside, doing comparable roles on Agenda for Change contracts [and] receive a more favourable pay deal, it will only undermine morale and could exacerbate general practice workforce shortages.’
Dr Vautrey said he decided to write to all CCGs in England to make them aware of this risk and hopes CCGs will work with LMCs to support practices with this one-off payment before the additional 1% is provided next year.
A version of this article was first published by Pulse’s sister title Management in Practice