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‘While expenses have gone up dramatically, our income has dropped’

The costs of running the surgery have gone up hugely: things like the cost of post, electricity and especially gas. Meanwhile, staff pay increases year on year and the total number of staff hours required also increase because there’s just so much more administration to do.

As partners, our pay is based on the profit the practice makes, and while the expenses have gone up drastically, our income has dropped. We’re so busy these days we have less time for LESs and DESs, and our QOF points were down this year so we’ve lost money from those things – fair enough, but it’s down to having more demands on our time.

We’re also losing money in the dispensing side of things. In the last few years wholesalers have slashed the discounts they previously offered us and the range of drugs they offer discounts on. The days of getting a decent bonus for using a certain type of branded drug are gone, and the price of generics has tumbled – so we’re making smaller profits on the stuff we use most of.

Our profits have dropped consecutively for five to six years now, and I think most of my colleagues in Dumfries have had the same experience. We’re all getting significantly less money for significantly more work.

I know that I make a comparatively good living, but it’s demoralising to get paid less year on year, and even more demoralising to get paid less for working harder. And it is getting harder – we’re almost intolerably busy, but me and my partner both took a week’s less holiday this year to cut down on locum costs.

Dr David Strachan is a GP partner in Dumfries