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GPs set for pay cut after Government overrules DDRB on expenses

By Gareth Iacobucci

GPs in England are to receive an effective pay cut for 2010/11, after the Government chose to ignore the pay review body's recommendation and apply a 'prospective efficiency saving' on GP expenses.

The Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body recommended an increase of 1.34% in contractual payments for GPs - designed to result in no increase to GPs' average net income when expenses are taken into account.

But the Government has factored in an additional prospective efficiency saving of 1% on GP expenses, after rejecting the pay body's proposal that efficiency savings should only be taken into account retrospectively.

The Government said the proposed uplift in GP pay would therefore stand at 0.8%, some way below the 2% called for by the BMA, who said the ruling would result in a pay cut for many GPs.

The DDRB's recommendation that salaried GPs in England should receive a pay increase of 1% was accepted.

The deal comes after Pulse first revealed in December that the Government was looking to press ahead with their phase-out of the MPIG despite the plan to freeze net GP pay, leaving most practices facing a real-terms cut in income for 2010/11.

BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘The BMA is disappointed that the government has chosen to overrule some of the recommendations of the independent pay review body. The government has scaled back the uplift that was essential to counter increases in GPs' expenses, which has resulted in another pay cut for family doctors.'

‘It is interesting that the Government accepted in full the salary increases recommended for MPs, yet chose to penalise dedicated and hard-working doctors who strive to lead and deliver improvements in care whilst working in exceptionally challenging circumstances.'

But health secretary Andy Burnham defended the deal.

‘These pay uplifts are a good deal for the Government and the NHS. In tough times, this package targets the pay rises we can afford to make where they can do most good for patients,' he said. ‘They also take full account of the need for pay restraint — especially by top earners in the public sector.'

‘The best-paid hospital doctors, along with GPs, dentists, and top NHS managers, will therefore get no increases.'

‘However we have taken on board the recommendations of the independent Pay Review Bodies on lower-paid doctors at the start of their careers, who will be getting a special pay supplement.'

Andrew Clapperton, head of primary care workforce and contracting at NHS Employers, said: ‘We have consistently made the argument over a number of years that these awards should take into account prospective efficiency savings and can understand why the Government has made the decisions it has.'

The BMA said the ruling would result in an effective pay cut for many GPs Dr Hamish Meldrum