NAO over-estimated GPs' earnings by 14%

Critical report on NHS income included private GP earnings and superannuation payments in calculation.

Government auditors have exaggerated GPs' profits and given a misleading impression of their workload, say GPs.

A National Audit Office (NAO) report published last week said that average profits among England's GP partners have increased by nearly 60 per cent, from £72,000 in 2002/3 to £114,000 in 2005/6.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey, said it was 'unfortunate' that the NAO had rolled NHS and private earnings together.

'It has gone for banner headlines of percentage rises and misrepresented what GPs are taking home,' he said.

Stuart Williamson, an accountant with Williamson West, attacked the NAO for exaggerating profits by 14 per cent.

Unlike those calculated during the last contract, current earnings figures include employers' superannuation contributions, he said. This means that average profits per partner in England now stands at £100,000 - a 40 per cent increase since 2002/3, rather than the widely reported 60 per cent.

Mr Williamson said this issue had been acknowledged by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care last year.

'But the NAO has repeated the exercise,' he added.

The NAO acknowledged that there is evidence the quality framework has improved care for long-term conditions. But it found that productivity had fallen by 2.5 per cent.

But Dr Michael Dixon, chairman of the NHS Alliance, said: 'It defines productivity as if patients were widgets to be processed quickly.'

The NAO report found that the new GMS contract cost the government £1.8 billion more than it had budgeted for.

jonn.elledge@haymarket.com

NAO report

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