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GP leaders respond to newspaper’s suggestion GP pay should be cut


NHS winter funding


The BMA and RCGP have taken a stand against a Times column that suggested GP pay should be cut to curb trends towards part-time working.

It comes as both bodies last week wrote to the Telegraph in response to Allison Pearson’s ‘completely unfair’ column in which she said she is ‘not surprised’ GPs have received a torrent of abuse.

On Friday, a piece by Times columnist James Kirkup entitled ‘Generous GP pay isn’t working for patients’ blamed GP earnings for part-time working and early retirement.

It said that increased demand is only part of the reason it is ‘so hard to see a GP’ alongside the ‘love of money’, as GPs ‘have enough of it to work less or not at all’.

It added: ‘Most employers who had to hire three people to fill a single post would be looking to change things somewhere. 

‘The taxpaying public could be forgiven for thinking if GPs were paid a bit less, there might be more of them available to see patients.’

Responding to the column, the BMA said yesterday that the suggestion of cutting GP pay to improve patient access to services is ‘completely counterintuitive’ and would make general practice ‘an even less attractive career destination’.

The ‘flexibility’ of general practice has helped recruit and retain doctors from many backgrounds – including those with additional health, family and caring responsibilities – without whom the GP crisis would be ‘even worse’, it added.

The BMA also said that GPs are reducing their hours to avoid burnout, while many are not actually working part-time but are ‘putting in extra hours elsewhere in the NHS in addition to the hours they already work in their practice’. 

In a letter to the national newspaper’s editor, BMA GP committee workforce policy lead Dr Samira Anane said: ‘Hard-working family doctors are not reducing their hours because their wages allow them to work part-time. 

‘The stresses and pressures of the job right now are so high that in not doing so they would burn out completely.’

She added: ‘Ultimately, if we are to boost the GP workforce and encourage more doctors to work and stay in primary care, we need to make it a more attractive destination – addressing unsustainable workloads and giving surgeries the improvements to staffing levels, technology and infrastructure that they need.’

The RCGP also responded to the opinion piece with a letter published in Saturday’s Times, saying ‘excessive workload and workforce shortages’ rather than GP earnings are to blame for problems with access.

It said: ‘The crisis in general practice is not about pay, pensions or GPs working part-time. We are now seeing the consequences of a decade of under-investment in the family doctor service. 

‘Recruitment of new GPs and, critically, efforts to retain existing GPs have not kept pace with the needs of an ageing and growing population, and the job of a modern GP in providing safe and personalised patient care is becoming increasingly impossible.’

The RCGP reiterated its call on the Government to ‘urgently deliver’ on its commitment of an additional 6,000 full-time equivalent GPs in post by 2024.

It added that it will ‘continue to push back against the recent sustained criticism of GPs by certain sections of the media’.

It comes as the BMA has launched a public campaign to rally support for GP practices, which aims to explain GP pressures and why it has been difficult to secure a face-to-face appointment over the last 18 months.

Researchers last week warned policymakers that support measures must be put in place to improve GP retention after a major study showed a steady increase in turnover over the last decade.

Meanwhile, the pandemic is prompting more GPs to reduce their clinical hours or take early retirement.

READERS' COMMENTS [18]

John Graham Munro 31 August, 2021 12:38 pm

As Richard Gordon once said ”G.Ps know more about finance than Swiss bankers”

Reply moderated
Chris GP 31 August, 2021 2:11 pm

Its obvious really – reduce pay and increase retention. Genius. I assume they will be doing the same to MP’s pay to encourage more folk to get involved there too?

Patrufini Duffy 31 August, 2021 2:47 pm

Thought: the local dentist just bought a new Maserati and six bed detached. They’re having a great time Kanani. Absolutely great. He also hit a 7 under par.

Patrufini Duffy 31 August, 2021 8:07 pm

Thought: cut the pay, definitely and see what happens. Do it to the nurses, police and teachers while you’ve got the calculator out. Great ideas from the clueless, shame loperamide isn’t useful for the oral cavity.

Michael Mullineux 31 August, 2021 8:44 pm

JGM above – your contributions become ever more obtuse and irrelevant with each iteration. Do us all a favour, take a break …

Decorum Est 31 August, 2021 10:31 pm

Some of the broadsheets were worthy a couple of decades (or more ago). PULSE until recently was worthwhile. Now it has its own resident TROLL (JGM). Stopped reading those ill informed and poorly written newspapers and intend to do the same with PULSE.

John Glasspool 1 September, 2021 8:08 am

JGM, you worked a long time ago. I’m going on that way myself. What should doctors do? Turn up to work when sick like we did? The system then was terrible. It’s terrible now, but for different reasons.

The truth is almost anyone has a right to work part-time, so why not GPs? My practice went down to a four day week several years before I retired. It was the best thing we ever did.

Don’t worry: today’s Times is tomorrow’s chip wrapper.

The Prime Minister 1 September, 2021 10:40 am

NOBODY WANTS TO DO THE JOB BEACUSE IT IS SHIT……..

IT IS SIMPLE MARKET FORCES……

UNLESS WE START ARRESTING DOCTORS AND MAKE THEM WORK OR BEAT THEM……??

WE LIVE IN A DEOMCRACY AND CANNOT “MAKE” ANYBODY DO ANYTHING……SO WHY ARE THESE RIGHT WING “MARKET FORCES” RAGS ADVOCATING SOME KIND OF “PUNISHMENT” TARGETING GPs….

Dave Haddock 1 September, 2021 1:50 pm

Kirkup is right in that generous pay has encouraged early retirement and minimum hours of part time work.

But the problem is that the job has become impossible and unpleasant. Fixing that is the way forward.

The Prime Minister 1 September, 2021 2:02 pm

The bit about “generous pay encouraging early retirement” is laughable…..the logic is that the pay is so good that GPs are leaving…….think about that logic…….doesn’t make sense…no…because it is self-evident crap.

john mackay 2 September, 2021 10:22 am

Apart from allowing the obvious response to the pay cut suggestion “Let’s do the same for MP’s and senior NHS Managers and see how that works”, Kirkup completely overlooks the fact that GP’s pay has fallen by around 20% over the last decade which is the biggest of all public sector workers in this respect. Clearly that pay cut policy hasn’t worked. Similarly with respect to pay comparisons with Europe, he ignores or doesn’t realise that there are around 3 times as many GP’s per 1000 patients in Europe compared to the UK, so we are actually much cheaper and efficient in what we do. And while we are lazing around on our days off we have somehow managed to deliver around 80 million Covid vaccines whilst still doing our day job and half of secondary care’s work.
Since this article clearly came straight from NHSE, is it any surprise at the mess the NHS is in.

Keith Greenish 2 September, 2021 11:31 am

Are the public complaining about hospital consultants? We all enter medical school as equals, we all qualify and do our FY jobs as equals. Those who enter general practice immediately limit their potential income, but not their workload; those who enter hospital practice can look forward to managed workload private practice income and merit awards. Do the journos care, no because we are the gateway to all care and the acknowledged whipping boys. Ignore the idiots, most of my patients do!

Dave Haddock 2 September, 2021 2:11 pm

Wakey wakey Prime Minister! My Partner retired as soon as he could afford to, which thanks to Labour’s absurdly generous contract in 2004 was at least five years earlier than originally planned. And I will be doing the same very shortly.

Slobber Dog 2 September, 2021 4:33 pm

Sloppy, ignorant and possibly discriminatory journalism at its worst.
Part time working is often a necessity and not a manifestation of laziness

David jenkins 4 September, 2021 10:15 am

utter drivel !

Giles Elrlngton 4 September, 2021 10:18 am

Dr Greenish, I am sorry you think that private practice and merit awards are available to all hospital consultants. FYI merit awards have been replaced by clinical excellence awards which are time limited and typically require a brown tongue. Private practice is of course dominated by surgical specialties.

I hope that most doctors can work together as a team without unhelpful and ill-informed rivalry.

You might agree that the career path for consultants is typically a little longer than for GPs and while the top salary is higher for the former it is arguable that the lifetime earning of a typical NHS GP is higher than of an NHS consultant. There are GPs working in private practice. As you say we enter med school as equals and as such have equal career choices.

Dylan Summers 4 September, 2021 11:36 am

Seems odd logic to claim that the “love of money” would lead someone to accept a reduced income by going part time.

John Graham Munro 5 September, 2021 5:01 pm

Michael Mullineux——-as you can see my comment has been taken down——too close to the actuality see—–most G.Ps don’t like it—-but I shall persist