The majority of GP practices are contractually obliged to offer their salaried GPs the 4.5% pay rise recommended by the Government earlier this year, the GPC has said.
But GP partners were left locked into the five-year agreement that gives them just a 2% year-on-year pay rise, and the Government later confirmed that practices would get no funding uplift to cover staff pay rises.
In response, the BMA’s GP Committee for England was given a mandate to ‘immediately escalate discussions’ on industrial action against the ‘derisory’ announcement.
But now the GPC has stressed that most practices are contractually obliged to offer the pay rise, rather than just recommended to do so.
This is because practices have a ‘contractual requirement’ to offer salaried GPs employment on terms that are ‘no less favourable’ than those set out in the BMA’s model salaried GP contract, the latest GPC email bulletin set out.
This requirement has been in place since 2015 and applies to GMS practices or those with a post-2015 PMS contract.
The salaried GP model terms and conditions include a clause stipulating a salary increase by ‘annual increments’ each year and ‘in accordance with the Government’s decision on the pay of general practitioners following the recommendation of the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body’.
The GPC added: ‘Practices who have salaried GPs employed under the terms of the model contract should offer the DDRB recommended 4.5% pay uplift as a minimum.
‘GPCE has lobbied for the global sum to be uplifted to accommodate this increase for salaried GPs and other practice staff and will continue to do so.’
GP Survival chair Dr John Hughes told Pulse that the ‘majority’ of practices are likely to be contractually obliged to offer the pay rise because the BMA model contract is ‘widely offered’.
However, he added that some practices offer an alternative to the model contract that enhances other benefits instead, so the contract package as a whole is ‘no less favourable’ than the model contract rather than the salary specifically.
He said: ‘They have to offer something at least as good as the BMA model contract. So sometimes practices will negotiate slight differences from it with the salaried GP.
‘Sometimes they may have negotiated something else rather than that uplift. The something higher might well be other benefits rather than the annual uplift of pay, [but] the overall package has to be at least as good.’
And Dr Hughes added that the recommended pay level in the model salaried GP contract is ‘well below the going rate in most areas’, so practices may already be offering more per session than the contract stipulates.
The DDRB uplift has been ‘a matter of contention for practices for quite some time’ because they are having to offer the pay rise to their salaried GPs at the same time partner income ‘may be dropping’, he said.
The remit, set out by health secretary Steve Barcay, covers salaried GPs but partners again remain excluded due to the five-year contract that expires at the end of the next financial year.
And 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.