DoH denies anti-GP spin campaign

The DoH is conducting a media campaign against GPs to prepare the ground for rejecting independent recommendations on GMS pay, GP leaders fear.

The GPC submitted evidence to the Review Body last year after negotiations with NHS Employers collapsed.

The DoH has said the Review Body has no role in setting GMS pay, although the GPC believes it is the only option since negotiators could not agree a pay rise.

Ministers have said that they believe GPs earned too much from the new GMS contract, and should have invested more of their pay rise in improving patient services.

GPs are angry that erroneously high pay statistics have been allowed to remain in circulation, and believe the DoH exaggerated the impact of high quality framework achievement on PCT deficits.

Recent reports have also claimed that GPs boosted pay by gaming the quality framework.

The Review Body is expected to report at the end of the month.

GPC negotiator Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘The government hasn't got any money and Patricia Hewitt's job depends on balancing the books. They are hell bent on saving money on GPs.'

He said the DoH was seeking to portray GPs as ‘lazy, greedy and taking money away from patients'.

Dr Vautrey said the aim was to increase pressure on the Review Body to steer clear of making recommendations on GMS pay.

If this failed, the DoH hoped that painting a negative picture of GPs would help ‘prepare the ground for not accepting pay recommendations or putting conditions on them', Dr Vautrey said.

He said the DoH also hoped that undermining GPs in this way would allow it ‘freer rein' to expand private sector provision of GP services through APMS deals.

GPC member Dr Eric Rose said: ‘We are all agreed there is a spin campaign against us.'

However, a DoH spokesman said: ‘There is no concerted campaign to criticise GPs. Ministers consistently stress the excellent work GPs are doing for patients and the department is rightly proud of the new contract.

Meanwhile GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum has written to every GP in the country about ‘misinformation' and ‘politically inspired' doctor bashing. Enclosed with the letter is a fact sheet to ‘rebut misinformation' on issues such as pay and working hours, and explanations on what the GPC is doing about it.

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