With reports of GP earnings for 2006/7 due to a fall by 7 percent, and a further 7 percent in the year 2007/8 (GP, 9 November), Dr Richard West, chairman of the Dispensing Doctors' Association, added to the gloom by confirming that dispensing GPs' earnings were likely to drop considerably.
He said that over the past nine to 12 months, primary care organisations have been pushing for a change from branded drugs to generics. Category M (the pricing reimbursement structure for 90 per cent of generic drugs) has pushed prices down.
'The dispensing envelope did not increase in 2006/7, and staff want a pay increase,' he added.
Asked how practices should minimise earnings drops in 2007/8, Dr West advised practices to maximise their dispensing list, making sure that none of the patients are missing off it, and to try to contain expenditure.
This month the DoH's Information Centre published figures showing average net profit among UK dispensing GPs increased 6.3 per cent in 2005/6 to £127,061.
The DoH report blamed changes in reimbursement for dispensed medicines for the slower rate of growth in gross turnover and profit.
GPC chairman Dr Laurence Buckman was also unhappy the DoH had included dispensing GPs in figures for average GP earnings.
Dr Buckman added: 'They earn more than non-dispensing GPs who form the majority because they are effectively running two businesses.'
Non-dispensing self-employed GMS GPs earned £102,648 in 2005/6 for both NHS and private work, according to the GPC.