Exclusive - GPs raise staff pay as income drops

Salaried GPs are set to miss out as practices increase pay for other staff.

Practices are gearing up to offer their staff pay rises, even as they expect their own pay to fall, a GP newspaper survey has found.

The survey found that fewer than 6 per cent of practices expect profits to rise, compared with 57 per cent that predict a fall. Also, 69 per cent of partners do not expect any increase in their take-home pay this year.

Despite this, two-thirds of practices plan to offer administrative and other staff a rise of 1 per cent or more. More than 40 per cent plan to offer them more than 1.5 per cent - the rise in total practice funding recommended by the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body.

One partner wrote: 'It will be difficult to find the money, but staff are expecting it.' Another GP planned pay rises, 'despite a real reduction in partners' drawings again'.

Salaried GPs will not see rises in line with other staff, however. Nearly a third of practices plan to offer salaried GPs no increase at all, but only 9 per cent plan to give other staff no rise. Just 27 per cent of practices will award salaried GPs a rise of more than 1.5 per cent.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chairman of the National Association of Sessional GPs, said many practices were being unfair to salaried doctors. 'They didn't share in the good times, but now they're being penalised for the bad,' he said.

Withholding increases from salaried GPs sends the wrong message to the DoH, suggesting the profession is already adequately paid, he warned.

He added that denying salaried doctors a pay rise suggested that the profession was suffering from 'low self-esteem'.

The survey also highlighted confusion within the profession about the 2009/10 pay deal.

Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) say they do not understand the contract changes, and 37 per cent have no idea how their practice will be affected.

Meanwhile, 72 per cent of PMS practices expect no pay rise this year, after the DoH said they should receive no more than 0.7 per cent.

Also 35 per cent of those practices predicted that, if any rise were available, it would mean an increase in workload.

'Any increase in our income is dependant on additional work,' wrote one. More than 250 GPs answered the survey.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

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