GP practices will only be able to afford a 2.1% pay rise for their salaried doctors and other staff this year, NHS England has suggested.
The organisation’s annual submission to the Review Body for Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) said that it wouldn’t make recommendations on salaried GPs’ pay rises, but it did state that any pay rise would need to reflect ‘affordability’ for practices.
The submission went on to say that the global sum uplift ‘will reflect sufficient funding for a 2.1% for salaried staff’.
This year’s DDRB remit covers salaried GPs but partners again remain excluded due to the five-year contract that expires at the end of the next financial year.
In July last year, the Government accepted recommendations by the DDRB to offer salaried GPs a 4.5% pay rise despite partners being locked in the five-year agreement translating to only a 2.1% year-on-year pay rise, and the Government later confirming that practices would get no funding uplift to cover staff pay rises.
NHS England’s submission said: ‘In 2022, we asked government to ask DDRB to continue to make recommendations to practices on salaried GP pay. Government will again decide how it responds to DDRB recommendations.
‘Recommendations will need to be informed by affordability to practices – that is, ultimately, to primary medical care contractors.
‘The practice global sum (usually the main source of funding directly used for practice staff pay) increase in 2023/24 will reflect sufficient funding for a 2.1% for salaried staff, agreed as part of the fixed five-year deal with the sector.’
NHS England’s submission also revealed that GP practices in England had not been able to honour the DDRB recommendations for the previous year – although it also suggested that this had be a choice for practices rather than an obligation.
The BMA’s GP Committee advised in November that the majority of GP practices would be contractually obliged to offer their salaried GPs the 4.5% pay rise recommended by the Government.
However, NHS England’s DDRB submission said: ‘NHS England and GPC England agreed that practice staff, including salaried GPs, in England would receive at least a 2.1% increase in 2022/23 – and that the DDRB recommendation for practices to uplift salaried GP pay by 4.5% could be adopted if they chose to.’
It also said: ‘The average income before tax for salaried GPs in England working in either a general medical services (GMS) or PMS (GPMS) practice in 2020/21 was £64,900, compared to £63,600 in 2019/20 – a statistically significant increase of 2%.
‘This is below the DDRB recommended uplift for 2020/21 of 2.8%, and below that for the other UK nations whose salaried GP pay uplifts ranged from 8.1% to 9.5%.’
The Government has tasked its independent pay review body with making an ‘affordable’ GP pay recommendation for 2023/24 in an ‘expedited’ process which it hopes will conclude by April.
However, at the beginning of this month Christopher Pilgrim, who chairs the DDRB, sent a letter to the health secretary Steve Barclay urging his department to send its submission.
Mr Pilgrim said: ‘I am increasingly concerned that delays to the submission of written evidence will affect when we can submit our report and recommendations.
‘As we said previously in our reports, delays of this nature send an unhelpful signal to our remit group about the way in which their pay setting process, and our role within it, is viewed.
‘During a period of time when the pay review process is under increased pressure and scrutiny, this cannot be in the interests of any of the stakeholders in the process.’
In its report, it said the NHS staffing crisis cannot be resolved without wholesale reform of the DDRB.