By Gareth Iacobucci
GPs are set for three pay freezes in a row, after the Government announced a two-year pay freeze for all public sector staff earning more than £21,000.
The Government has yet to confirm if the freeze will apply to GPs as independent contractors, but previous public sector pay freezes have been applied to GPs.
The Conservatives had already pledged to freeze pay for everyone in the public sector earning over £18,000 a year in 2011/12, as part of a package of tough pre-election pledges on the economy.
But chancellor George Osborne has gone further in his emergency budget, by pledging to freeze pay for the next two years.
The announcement means GPs are likely to face three successive pay freezes in 2010 and 2011, and 2012, making it six freezes in seven years for many GPs.
It also casts huge doubt on the role of the Doctors and Dentists’ Review Body, whose recommendations on this year’s pay award were ignored by the Government due to demands from the Treasury.
NHS Confederation acting chief executive Nigel Edwards said: ‘All NHS trusts are aware of the collective £15-20bn of efficiency savings that are required over the next five years. The pay freeze for public sector workers announced today will play its part in achieving this, but VAT increases mean a simultaneous rise in the cost of goods and equipment.’
‘Although the NHS budget has been largely protected, it is likely that over the next five years cuts to other areas, such as local authorities, may impact on health expenditure. So although health spending will continue to rise year on year, all NHS trusts will find they are challenged to do more for the money they have.’
A DH spokesperson said: ‘Everyone who works in the public sector will need to play their part in helping to reduce the deficit. This includes GPs and proposals for GP pay will be outlined in due course.’