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Treasury opens door for GPs to receive pay rise of above 1%

The Treasury has indicated that staff groups with recruitment and retention issues may receive bigger awards than the 1% previously outlined by the Government, raising hopes that GPs will benefit.

The Government had previously announced that public sector workers – including GPs – would receive just a 1% pay rise each year for the next four years.

However, in a letter to the DDRB and other public sector pay review bodies, chief secretary to the Treasury Greg Hands wrote that would ‘be applied in a targeted manner to support the delivery of public services’.

Mr Hands said that this could mean some groups of public sector workers may receive more than other groups and some may receive less, with pay awards being used ‘to address recruitment and retention pressures’.

The letter, dated 19 August and published on the Government’s website, said: ‘As you will have seen, the Government announced at Budget it will fund public sector workforces for a pay award of 1% a year for four years from 2016/17.

‘The Government expects pay awards to be applied in a targeted manner to support the delivery of public services, and to address recruitment and retention pressures.’

It continued: ‘This may mean that some workers could receive more than 1% while others could receive less; there should not be an expectation that every worker will receive a 1% award.’

The news has come as the GP recruitment crisis shows no signs of letting up, with a fifth of GP training places unfilled overall this year, including half of places in the worst-affected areas.

Meanwhile, Pulse exclusively revealed earlier this month that 8,000 GPs a year are applying for a permit to work abroad.

GP practices received a 1.16% funding uplift from April, calculated as a 1% pay rise with the traditonally used formula, even though the DDRB refused to use that formula in its recommendation as it had not delivered the intended pay increases in the past.

The Government launched a £10m scheme to boost GP recruitment and retention earlier this year but has not yet taken steps to boost income levels. Instead, a Pulse survey of GP partners found their take-home pay had plummeted by 6% since the supposed April pay rise.

GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘There is clearly an urgent need for the Government to address the deepening GP recruitment and0 retention crisis and one of the fundamental ways to do this is reverse the cuts we’ve seen over the last decade and to properly invest in general practice instead, not just to ensure GPs get a pay rise rather than any further pay cuts, but also to ensure all practices have the necessary funding to employ the necessary workforce to meet their patients’ growing needs.

‘If we have any chance of making general practice an attractive option for young doctors again, the Treasury has to radically change it’s approach in order to enable the DH and NHS England to make the vital investment needed.’

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