Letters Calls and Emails: Pay cap is poor reward for great results

Dear Editor,

It is no wonder that, even with this government's forecasts, there will be a deficit of 1,200 GPs by 2010.

I expect this will be much worsened by health secretary Patricia Hewitt's comment that the DoH aims to cap the amount of income that GP will be able to take from their practices.

Having faced the past 12 months of carping by ministers about how much GPs earn, I have now retired; I can see many in my age bracket following suit.

GPs agreed the terms of the contract with the government. The extra money is being earned, according to the quality agreements, and GPs are performing better that the government expected.

There were 1,050 quality points to aim for and the government did not expect GPs to obtain more than 700 on average.

In fact, they earned 990 points on average. In the words of this government, GPs ‘overachieved'.

Patients are getting the highest quality of care of any in the Western world, yet I understand, from the government's latest utterings, that it does not think GPs are worth the income they gain by doing this.

I know of no other profession that has ever been threatened by such a cap to its income, particularly after following a contract that the government was so pleased for it to accept.

GPs could not have achieved these quality points if they had not invested in their practices by paying for more practice nurse hours and more administration staff hours.

They also achieved this by working long hours - I worked from 6am to past 7pm.

The government moans about how much out-of-hours now costs; unfortunately, when it was negotiating our contract, it valued our out-of-hours work at just £6,000 a year; it is now surprised when private locums who are willing to work these hours refuse to accept such a pittance.

It must also be noted that the DoH is also trying to cap GPs' pensions which again is contrary to what was signed up for by GPs.

GPs would love to have the average £145,000 expenses and the generous pension scheme that MPs voted for themselves.

Dr Martin F Seely

Worsley, Manchester

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