15:15 The Department of Health has refused to deny reports that the Government is planning to end the 1% public sector cap on pay rises.
The Sun said it could reveal that the Government is planning to end the cap, instated in 2015 and intended to last until 2019, this month.
The paper said that pay rises of at least the rate of inflation, currently at 2.6%, would be allowed by ministers.
The Sun quotes a senior Whitehall source as saying: ‘The PM and the Chancellor think the government need to show we understand the value of people’s service, not just the price of it.
‘Being taken for granted for a long time is why people are getting tired with austerity.’
A Treasury source added: ‘Lifting the cap and how we pay for it is the biggest domestic issue for us this Autumn. It will dominate the Budget.’
At a briefing attended by the Guardian, a Prime Minister spokesperson reportedly refused to refute the story.
The spokesperson instead responded to questions about the cap by outlining the timetable for setting public sector pay.
She said this will see the Treasury writing to the pay review bodies in the autumn, asking them to consider evidence from the departments and professional organisations before making recommendations in the spring.
The spokesperson added that the PM had said many times that people in both the public and private sectors were ‘just about managing’ and the Government recognised the sacrifice they are making, but reiterated that there was a process to follow.
However, she ignored direct questions about whether the stories about the pay cap being lifted were true, according to the report.
14:40 Doctors’ defence organisation MDU has issued advice on using closed social media groups in light of the Sun’s story about GP Survival’s Facebook page this morning.
Dr Ellie Mein, MDU medico-legal adviser, said: ‘Medicine is a stressful profession and social media forums can provide a useful outlet to discuss the pressures of the job. However, even though many forums used by doctors allow discussions in ‘members only’ areas, it’s important to be aware that comments may reach a wider audience.
‘These “closed groups” can create an illusion of security but it’s not always possible to know who will be accessing and sharing posts. It’s important to think carefully before you comment and to consider if you would be happy for your post to be shared, possibly with no reference to the original context in which it was made.
‘For these reasons it’s important to remain professional at all times when using social media and not to discuss information which could be identifiable.’
GMC guidance for doctors on social media states: ‘You must not use publicly accessible social media to discuss individual patients or their care with those patients or anyone else.’
It also says: ‘You must not bully, harass or make gratuitous, unsubstantiated or unsustainable comments about individuals online.’
12:15 Organ shortages led to the death of 457 people on the NHS transplant waiting list last year, reports the Guardian.
NHS Blood and Transplant, which has over 6,400 people on its organ donation waiting list, said the reluctance of people to discuss their wishes with family was making shortages worse.
It said an average three families a week in the UK said no to organs being donated because they did not know what their family member would have wanted.
The BMA has called for England to follow the lead of the Welsh NHS, has introduced an opt-out organ donation system. Scotland is already planning to follow suit.
10:00 The Sun newspaper has taken a swipe at GPs who complain about patients, quoting members of the Resilient GP Facebook group.
But it seems Sun readers did not react as expected, with the only comments (at the time of writing) offering their sympathies to GPs.
One commenter said: ‘No different from them doing this down the pub in the old days. Not ideal, but anyone needs to vent sometimes and doctors have a tough job and are famous for having a black sense of humour to cope. I’ve no problem with this.’
Another said: ‘As long as I don’t get to see a picture of a finger up my a#rse on social media they can have a laugh like the rest of us as far as I’m concerned!’
Resilient GP said in a statement that the Facebook group acts as a chat room for colleagues to discuss ‘the challenges of modern day general practice’.
The group also said it has ‘a clear social media policy and members are aware they are accountable for their own posts and language’.
The statement added: ‘We are very disappointed that a member of our group has broken the trust of the 8000+ individuals of the group by sharing posts with a non-member. The breach of trust demonstrated by such an action is at best distasteful and could be considered to be unprofessional and dishonest.
‘The very existence of Resilient GP is a symptomatic of the increasing pressures and systematic underfunding of general practice. Clinical workload has increased by 16% and yet the number of GPs have continue to fall. 8/10 GPs report their workload as unmanageable. Finally, because of inadequate funding, in the past year 200 surgeries have shut; people haven’t just lost their jobs, but their place in a community and their entire livelihood.’
‘With these insurmountable pressures, we feel it is understandable that in a group of this size frustrations will be voiced.
‘It is exceptionally disappointing that the media is all too keen to vilify a group supporting an exhausted profession, rather than raising awareness of the reasons for the collapse of general practice, and with it the NHS.’