GPs do not have a contractual duty to declare earnings above £156,000 unless they received a ‘contract variation notice’, the BMA has confirmed.
The union said it was seeking legal advice after NHS England confirmed it will be asking the highest-earning GPs to declare their income by 30 April, including partners, salaried and locum GPs.
The commissioner published guidance on the pay transparency requirement earlier this month, after consulting with the BMA’s GP Committee and the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants (AISMA) late last year.
In the new guidance, NHS England set out who is required to make a ‘pay transparency self-declaration’ and explains the process of making the self-declaration and how the data collected will be used.
The guidance sets the threshold for earnings at which GPs have to declare at £156,000 for 2021/22; £159,000 for 2022/23; and £163,000 for 2023/24.
The legal advice the union received pointed out that ‘no practice has a contractual duty to comply with these new rules’ until it is served with a 14-day contract variation notice and the period of the notice has expired.
GPs should check whether they have received a contract variation notice and the period of the notice has passed and if so, then they must comply with the new regulations.
The union said that many GP practices have not received any notice of variation.
A spokesperson from the committee said: ‘GPCE has made our significant concerns about the change clear.
‘It provides no benefit to GPs or their patients, but will potentially increase acts of aggression and abuse toward GPs and practices. It will be damaging to morale and wholly reduce the ability to recruit and retain GPs.
‘GPCE has already received reports of GPs reducing their hours to remain under the threshold.
‘As GPCE did not agree to this amendment, we consider it to have been imposed on the profession and in breach of the original agreement.’
During a webinar last week, GPC officials also confirmed that the new contract does not stipulate that GPs must agree death certificates with a medical examiner, updated GPs on potential options for industrial action and advised them to stick to ‘safe working guidance’ in order to prioritise patients and ‘avoid burnout’.