Campaigners hit back as GPC questions case for linking GP pay to deprivation

General practice leaders in east London have hit back at comments from the GPC executive questioning the need for greater recognition of deprivation in practice funding.

Virginia Patania (second from left) addresses Save Our Surgeries protesters (Photo: Wilde Fry)
Virginia Patania (second from left) addresses Save Our Surgeries protesters (Photo: Wilde Fry)

GPs in Tower Hamlets, one of the most deprived areas in the UK, said they did not recognise the suggestion in analysis published last week that doctors in poor areas had higher pay.

As first reported by GP last week, analysis published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) suggested that GPs in the most deprived areas spend a smaller proportion of their income on services, taking home more in pay.

The report, however, found no such trend for urban practices when analysed alone.

GPC questions deprivation link

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GP the analysis raised questions over plans to give a greater weighting to deprivation factors in practice funding.

‘Many assume that GPs working in practices in affluent areas would earn more than those in deprived areas but this paper suggests that that is not the case and is in fact the reverse,' he said.

‘It also raises questions as to whether changing the Carr-Hill formula to move more funding away from practices serving elderly populations towards those in areas with higher deprivation would necessarily achieve the aim it was intended to.’

GPs in deprived areas have said their practices are underfunded because the funding formula does not recognise the additional workload caused by the effects of deprivation on health.

Carr-Hill is currently weighted largely on age and sex, meaning areas such as east London with a poor but young population may be disadvantaged.

GP funding formula

NHS England has told GPs in east London that work to give greater weighting to deprivation could be in place by 2016/17.

Speaking at the launch of a new report by the Save Our Surgeries campaign in Tower Hamlets, Jubilee Street practice manager and CCG board member Virginia Patania hit back at Dr Vautrey’s comments. ‘We would express strong concern that Dr Richard Vautrey, without having engaged with the practices and the areas directly affected, might be led to believe that this is going home as personal income rather than being invested in services. Especially in areas of excellent outcomes on low earnings,' she said.

‘What we really want is GPC support for these struggling, high achieving areas rather than feeling challenged on raw HSCIC data which has not been analysed or discussed with practices involved.’

Dr Kambiz Boomla, whose research on the effects of deprivation on workload and funding is to be considered as part of the Carr-Hill formula review, said he would welcome government controls on the proportion of earnings GPs could take home as pay. ‘But you can't use that sort of argument to say poor people don't need better surgeries,' he said.

Practices in Tower Hamlets had published details of GP pay and shown it was below the national average, Dr Boomla added.

Tower Hamlets LMC chairwoman Dr Jackie Applebee said campaigners for more funding for deprived areas had never called for that to come at the expense of practices elsewhere. ‘We have always been very clear in our campaign, our slogan has been that a threat to one is a threat to all. We are very well aware here that general practice all across the country is suffering for lots of different reasons.’

She added: ‘It is not a question of robbing Peter to pay Paul.’

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