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GPs are not being rewarded for their Covid contributions

Yesterday’s pay announcement from the Government – based on recommendations from the DDRB – will be a huge disappointment to all doctors in general, and GPs/junior doctors across England in particular, who have been working so incredibly hard during the Covid-19 pandemic in recent months.

Pay deals made before Covid-19 are not an excuse to ignore the work the GPs and junior doctors have done and continue to do so. And still worse, there is no new money – these deals are being paid out of existing budget. Even the 2.8% increase announced for salaried GPs would come from existing pool for general practice. Practice incomes have been frozen for several years and this has led to real net incomes dropping by more than 20% since 2008.

They jolly well can clap for us and the NHS, but in reality this government is busy downsizing NHS and kicking its workforce. The sacrifices made by the medical profession during Covid-19 have not been recognised. More than 540 health workers (including several GPs) have died, the highest number of health workers in world.

A post-Covid tsunami of workload will be the straw to break the camel’s back

The DDRB points out that they were not directed to include general practice trainees and nurses in England in their remit. This is incredibly disingenuous from this so-called ’independent’ body. Most GPs and junior doctors have no confidence in DDRB. It’s high time a root and branch reform of DDRB is undertaken.

The morale of GPs has taken another massive hit with this award. Many surveys tell us that almost half of GPs plan to quit NHS due to ‘perilously’ low morale, fuelling an enormous crisis in frontline health care. A post-Covid tsunami of workload will be the straw to break the camel’s back. GPs must at the very least receive the equivalent to what is being offered to consultants. It cannot be right that GPs and junior doctors are left comparatively worse off, and the Government must urgently address this.

The chancellor Rishi Sunak said that the doctors’ pay award recognises doctors’ exceptional contributions during the Covid crisis. But GPs and junior doctors, who aren’t getting any addition to their pre-Covid agreements, are clearly not being rewarded for their exceptional contributions. I think it is grossly offensive for this derisory pay award to be spun by the Government as a reward for the NHS workforce efforts in the pandemic. The public needs to know how far GPs pay has fallen behind year on year, with many years of real-terms pay cuts and cumulative increases far less than they should have been.

This pay award is grossly unfair and should be remedied immediately.

Dr Kailash Chand OBE is a retired GP in Tameside