GPs face pay freeze 'at best' after 1.16% contract uplift, accountants warn

GPs face a pay freeze at best following the government's announcement last week on funding, accountants have warned.

Funding: pay freeze warning for GPs
Funding: pay freeze warning for GPs

The 1.16% funding uplift announced by ministers on Thursday is unlikely to deliver the 1% net income rise recommended after expenses, specialist medical accountants have told GP.

Laurence Slavin, partner at Ramsay Brown and Partners, said after increases in pay for salaried and locum GPs and rising demand from patients, expenses are unlikely to be covered by the uplift.

Russell Finn of Sandison Easson said the 1.16% increase was ‘extremely unlikely to pass on a 1% increase in take home pay’ and would at best deliver a pay freeze.

Rising GP staff costs

Mr Finn said staffing costs had been growing every year, with expenses such as increased employers superannuation contributions and overtime costs on top of salary rises pushing practice cost rises above national average.

Mr Finn also warned that the appeal from the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) for more detailed information on income and expenses could lead to greater access by NHS England to individual practice accounts. 

In a break with previous years the body did not make a recommendation to government on expenses. Last year it raised concerns over the formula used to calculate its expenses recommendation, saying it had failed to deliver the intended net pay increases.

The DDRB had asked NHS England and the BMA to provide more detailed information on workload, income and expenses to inform this year’s recommendation, but that was not available. The BMA raised concerns over the ability of practices to provide the detailed information required, given the potential workload involved.

1% GP pay rise

Ministers accepted the DDRB’s 1% net rise recommendation and used the formula rejected by the BMA and the DDRB to calculate that a 1.16% gross funding uplift would be enough to deliver the pay rise.

In its report, said Mr Finn, the DDRB directly linked the need for more information to the requirement for practices to publish details of net earnings by March 2016.

‘This link seems to imply that they are suggesting that the NHS have access to practices' accounts, or at least their income and expenses accounts,' said Mr Finn.

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