Exclusive GP partner take-home pay has declined by almost 6% since April, despite Government claims that GPs were given an uplift translating to a 1% funding rise with the 2015/16 contract, Pulse can reveal.
A Pulse survey of 371 GP partners and principals who answered the question found that 62% of all GPs had taken some form of pay cut, while there has been an average reduction of 5.7%.
A mere 7% said their take-home pay had increased in this time.
The GPC said that practices have already made all the efficiencies they could make, so they have had to use their own take-home pay to maintain services to patients.
This 6% decrease comes on top of an estimated 8% decrease in earnings last year.
However, the survey of 173 non-partners reveals that their earnings have decreased by 2.2%, way below that of partner colleagues.
The latest figures follow the Government’s uplift of 1.16% to the global sum this April, which it said would give practices a 1% funding rise after expenses. However, this was based on the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) formula that the DDRB itself discredited.
The 2015/16 contract also saw the redistribution of another seventh of MPIG funds across all practices, and 15% of seniority pay, which is also being phased out. It also saw the funding for the patient participation and alcohol DESs become contractual requirements, with the associated funding moved into the global sum.
But GPs say that these measures have not prevented their take-home pay from plummeting.
Dr Renee Kathuria, a GP partner in Suffolk, saw a 6-10% increase but said this was ‘as a result of three partners leaving’ which meant the remaining GPs were ‘working much longer and busier days’. She added that although the extra hours meant slightly more pay, ‘most of the surplus is spent on locum pay’.
Meanwhile Dr Angus Stewart, a senior GP partner based in Cambridge, said the reason his pay packet saw ‘no change’ was merely a result of the practice’s list size growing but that everyone was doing a lot more work as a result.
He said: ‘There has been a major reduction in the partnership profits and therefore the drawings over the last five years or so. This has been reversed to a significant degree more recently by taking on extra patients. The penalty is that the workload has increased. I don’t suppose this is different elsewhere in general practice.’
Dr Josef Kuriacose, a GP partner in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, blamed his 6-10% decline in take home pay on the changes to the NHS pension scheme, into which GPs have to pay a larger share of earnings since April, with this coming after 10 years of declining income per consultation for Northern Irish GP practices.
He said: ‘Pension changes are beginning to hit take-home pay, which has fallen for 10 years. I do not know another group in the NHS where there has been such a concerted attack on pay and workloads.’
Dr Zack Magkrachi, a GP locum, said he saw a 20% increase in pay but that this was due to swapping GP partnership for locum work.
He said he experienced ‘more money and much less stress as a locum compared to partner and salaried’, having been in both roles in the past.
The news comes as GP recruitment across the UK is facing a major crisis, with half of training places unfilled in some areas – something GP leaders blame on increased workloads and declining remuneration.
It also comes as the Government’s anticipated ‘new deal’ for general practice, aimed at making the profession attractive once again, was announced last month lacking any pledges to stem the trend of dwindling pay packets.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘Practices have squeezed every little bit of efficiency out of their practice running costs. Now, in order to maintain services to their patients as much as possible, and to honour staff pay, they are paying the cost of NHS England’s and the Government’s failure to resource general practice and in any way deal with GPs’ spiralling workload.
‘The promised 1% increase is no more than a pipe-dream for GPs and it is time the Government recognised this cost-cutting is driving away future GPs and so must be reversed.’
What change in your take-home pay have you personally experienced since April?
+more than 20%: 1.5%
No change: 31%
-more than 20%: 5%
Source: The survey launched on 9 June 2015, collating responses using the Survey Monkey tool. The survey was advertised to Pulse readers via our website and email newsletter, with a prize draw for a Samsung HD TV as an incentive to complete the survey. Some 504 GP answered these questions.