Today’s announcement from the Government on doctors’ pay is a kick in the teeth for GPs at a time when there is overwhelming evidence that GP workload is escalating to an unsustainable level while resources are continuing to fall in real terms. General practice is carrying out an estimated 340 million consultations this year, up 40 million from 2010, and are at the forefront of treating the 18 million patients in the community suffering long term conditions.
It beggars belief to suggest that an 0.28% uplift in the GP contract will translate into a 1% increase in GP pay at a time when expenses are projected to continue to accelerate. This decision fails to recognise the expanding role and workload in general practice that shows no signs of abating.
It will inevitably result in yet another pay cut. To add insult to injury, this decision comes on the back of several years of effective pay cuts. GPs will justifiably feel they are being unfairly treated as well as devalued. This settlement will also be a blow to patient services as it will effectively reduce resources for GP practices and frontline services.
Large numbers of GPs over the age of 50 are considering retiring or quitting early because GP morale is being completely undermined. Job satisfaction is at its lowest level since 2001 and we are seeing record numbers of GPs reporting high levels of stress. Not investing in general practice will make it even harder to retain and recruit more GPs. This is at total odds with the government’s stated aim of expanding the GP workforce and giving general practice the resources it needs to deliver more care in community settings.
Today’s announcement is likely to make the morale and workforce crisis in general practice much worse.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul is chair of the GPC