DH rejects plan for higher GP pay awards in underdoctored areas

The government has rejected its own proposal to target GP pay rises at areas with recruitment problems.

DH officials have written to the independent Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) setting out ‘strong concerns’ over the plan to vary the GP pay uplift to help tackle the workforce crisis.

In November health minister Lord David Prior asked the DDRB to consider ‘how an overall pay uplift of an average of 1% could be applied to improve recruitment and retention’.

However, in its latest submission to the body the department said it ‘do[es] not consider that there is a strong case for targeting in 2016/17’ to support recruitment and retention.

The DH said it had strong concerns’ that a ‘differential uplift’ would ‘cut across’ the operation of the GP funding formula which delivers capitated funding weighted by patient profile.

GP funding

Officials also suggested that as independent businesses practices may decide not to apportion any uplift to support recruitment.

Another concern cited by the DH submission was ‘a lack of robust data on vacancy rates within general practice’.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘There is a recruitment and retention crisis right across the country so it didn't make any sense to suggest differential awards. What we need is significant and sustained investment into general practice across the board if we are to really make a difference and make being a GP attractive again.’

Last summer, a GPonline poll found that one in three practices had a GP vacancy that had been unfilled for a year or more

A survey by Leeds LMC last summer found that three quarters of practices had  a GP vacancy during the first six months of 2015 and many were unable to offer enough sessions.

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