Hewitt defends GMS pay freeze

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt has rejected claims that GP services are being cut after consecutive GP pay freezes.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt
Health secretary Patricia Hewitt

Last week the health secretary announced that the NHS in England had finished the year more than £510 million under budget.

But the news comes as a bitter pill for front-line staff, including GPs, who say the savings are being made at the expense of practice income and patient care.

In April the GPC issued a six-point recovery to practices smarting under a 6 per cent real-terms income drop for 2007/8, including work they could stop doing (GP, 13 April - GPC lists services practices can drop).

Ms Hewitt had staked her future on returning the NHS to financial balance and aggressive money-saving tactics included the cull of 8,000 jobs and consecutive freezes on GMS income.

Speaking last week after the official announcement of the savings, Ms Hewitt told GP: 'I know that your newspaper is speaking for GPs but I don't think it's true to say low morale and despondency exists in most practices.

'I understand the disappointment of some front-line NHS staff but it had nothing to do with NHS finances and everything to do with the state of the economy. That was the basis of the decision this year to freeze all pay.'

henry.ellis@haymarket.com

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