GP anger as MPs told pay freeze will have 'no impact'

Doctors feel overpaid and a pay freeze would not hit recruitment and retention, policy experts told MPs last week.

Dr Holden: NHS monopoly on jobs
Dr Holden: NHS monopoly on jobs

The comments came after the government announced in the Budget that public sector pay would be capped at 1 per cent for two years from 2011.

At a House of Commons health select committee evidence session on value for money in the NHS, Andrew Haldenby, director of right- wing think tank Reform, said savings could be made on pay.

Chancellor Alistair Darling has demanded £11 billion of savings across government. The DoH has pledged £4.35 billion of savings from 2011.

Mr Haldenby said: 'There is an opportunity to look at doctors' pay levels and bring them back. Doctors do feel overpaid and feel that they have got too generous a deal in the last contracts.'

Professor John Appleby, chief economist at The King's Fund, said GPs have had a pay freeze for two years. But he said that a further freeze would have 'little impact' on recruitment and retention.

GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden said of the view that doctors feel overpaid: 'It defies logic. The GP contract is for a working week that's 40 per cent longer than the standard working week.' He said the deal had paid doctors for 'the vast amount of work' shifted from secondary to primary care since 1990.

'For many years, an enormous amount of their work has been unpaid,' he said.

Dr Holden said the NHS had a monopoly on jobs for most doctors. Rather than leaving, they would stop services if expenses were not covered. 'Access and extended hours will go by the board,' he added.

Dr Holden said the DoH's decision to downgrade the 2010/11 GP pay award to 0.8 per cent meant practice expenses would not be met by the NHS.

'That makes people say: "Why should I go on subsidising the health service?"' he said.

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