Editorial: GPs are setting a good example on staff pay

Last week official NHS data showed that average GP income had fallen for the third consecutive year.

It is news that will come as little surprise to those of you running practices at a time when the rosy glow has long since dimmed on the new GMS and PMS contracts.

This week GP newspaper also exclusively reveals the results of what could well be the UK's most comprehensive survey of practice manager salaries.

Has the income of practice managers been hit in the same way as GPs?

Well, no. Perhaps surprisingly given that practices are effectively small businesses, GP partners have not been passing on their financial misfortunes to those who manage their practices.

In fact the reverse is true, practice manager income rose on average by 2.3 per cent in 2010.

These findings are backed some way by the NHS Information Centre data for GPs which show that GP expenses have risen by 5.1 per cent.

GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman is right to emphasise that: 'GPs are increasingly working in a challenging economic climate and facing financial pressure in a number of areas.'

Perhaps this is the reason why GP partners are not penalising the pay of practice managers in the way that their income has been.

However, there are signs from the First Practice Management/Towergate MIA survey that the ability of GPs to continue to set a good example on staff pay is facing erosion and potential extinction.

The authors reveal that a number of managers this year report no pay rises for themselves or for their staff.

The future is indeed bleak. The coalition government is implementing a two-year public sector pay freeze.

Perhaps the DoH should consider incentivising those practices keenest to make a go of GP commissioning to enable them to continue to increase the wages of those staff they prize.

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