However, a Review Body spokesman said: ‘When the new contract was agreed... the parties jointly told the Review Body that it did not need to make recommendations for 2003/4, 2004/5 and 2005/6. They were silent as to what happened after that.'
The spokesman said the decision on whether to make recommendations on GMS pay would be based on its terms of reference and written evidence. The Review Body's remit is described in its terms of reference as ‘to make recommendations... on the remuneration of doctors... taking any part in the NHS'.
GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum, said: ‘There was never any decision that the Review Body would not be an option in future. We are GPs providing NHS services, and the terms of reference still stand.'
Ministers are not obliged to accept the Review Body's recommendations, but there is no precedent for its comments being disregarded.
However, senior NHS analysts say a DoH-imposed pay solution is possible. The DoH said last week that it was ‘considering its options' after NHS Employers announced that talks with the GPC had collapsed (GP, 12 January).
Dr Meldrum said that he still hoped for ‘a pay rise of some sort'. In June 2006, he told LMCs that the 2006/7 pay freeze was a ‘one-off', and the bottom line for 2007/8 was ‘an inflationary increase on the present contract'.
He denied offering to resign if this was not achieved: ‘People have misinterpreted what I said.'