The Government has tasked its independent pay review body with making an ‘affordable’ GP pay recommendation for 2023/24.
The remit, set out by health secretary Steve Barclay, covers salaried GPs but partners again remain excluded due to the five-year contract that expires at the end of the next financial year.
Mr Barclay’s letter to the chair of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB), published yesterday, said the Government ‘is not seeking recommendations for this group’.
‘We do, however, invite you to make recommendations on uplifts to the maximum and minimum of the salaried general medical practitioner pay scales,’ he added.
But he said these recommendations ‘will need to be informed by affordability and the fixed contract resources available to practices under the five-year GP contract’.
The letter confirmed that the NHS budget ‘has already been set’ until 2024/25 so pay awards ‘must strike a careful balance’ and ‘have regard to the Government’s inflation target’.
It said recommendations must recognise ‘the vital importance of public sector workers while delivering value for the taxpayer, considering private sector pay levels, not increasing the country’s debt further and being careful not to drive prices even higher in the future’.
Mr Barclay added that he is ‘hoping to expedite the process as much as possible this year’, saying he ‘would welcome’ the DDRB’s report recommending GP pay rises in April.
It comes as a ballot of junior doctors on industrial action is set to open on Monday 9 January 2023 over last year’s pay award, which was a real-terms cut to junior doctor pay.
The executive team of the BMA’s GP Committee for England was also given a mandate to ‘immediately escalate discussions with BMA Council’ on industrial action in response to this year’s ‘derisory’ GP pay announcement back in July.
The Government recommended that salaried GPs receive a 4.5% pay rise, but GP partners remained locked into the five-year agreement which gives them just a 2% year-on-year pay rise.
The BMA has said it remains in the early stages of preparations for any GP industrial action but England’s LMCs will consider options at a special LMC conference to be held later this month.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt today announced a lowering of the top threshold of income tax from £150,000 to £125,140, meaning more high-earning GPs will be paying the top rate.
He also announced that the NHS will get £3.3bn extra in each of the next two years to deal with inflationary pressures.