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CCGs ignore BMA advice to provide top-up funding for GP staff pay rise

CCGs have refused to fund a request for an extra 1% funding increase for general practice by the BMA, Pulse has learned.

The funding request, issued by GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey last year, called on CCGs to ‘seriously consider’ providing a one-off funding boost to allow practices to top-up their staff salaries by an additional 1% throughout the 2018/19 financial year – on top of the 2% already announced by the Government.

Dr Vautrey said the funding boost should be provided to put the GP staff pay rise in line with NHS staff on the Agenda for Change pay system, adding that not doing so would ‘undermine morale’ in practices and ‘make staff recruitment and retention worse’.

But in a query sent to all English CCGs by Pulse, all those which replied (13) reported not following this advice.

Wessex LMC chief executive Dr Nigel Watson said he has not heard of a single CCG agreeing to cover the increase.

He said: ‘It’s always difficult with discretionary funding when the NHS is so financially challenged. Clearly for the GP profession it was disappointing that the DDRB recommendations were not implemented and it would have been great if the 1% had not been delayed until this year.

‘I am not aware of any CCG that funded the 1% last year. I think most GPs and practice managers are now trying to embrace this year’s contract changes.’

Doncaster LMC chief executive Dr Dean Eggitt said: ‘CCGs have tight budgets that they have to manage to enable appropriate care for patients. We remain in austere times with significant underfunding of the NHS by our current Government. 

‘I understand the reluctant of a CCG to give any funds for a one-off pay lift when there are other significant competing interests. Whilst the sentiment from Dr Vautrey is admirable, one-off funding lifts do nothing for the sustainability of the NHS or resilience of our workforce. Efforts would be better spent on long-term solutions.’

Responding to Dr Vautrey’s letter, Dudley CCG chief executive Paul Maubach said: ‘We are able to confirm that it was considered by our Primary Care Commissioning Committee in November 2018.

‘Following the receipt of guidance from NHS England, the committee decided not to award an additional 1% to GPs, however the CCG has remains committed to continued investment in general practice.’

He added: ‘In line with this commitment, Dudley CCG has therefore invested over £200,000 in this financial year in the training, development and mentoring of clinical and administrative staff within general practices.’

Dr Vautrey said: ‘Local investment by CCGs is a vital part of practice core funding.

‘Our letter to CCGs last year provided the opportunity for local discussions between CCGs and LMCs but it also signalled our intent to secure significant new recurrent investment for practices, something we achieved for all practices in every CCG through our recent five year contract agreement.’

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.