GP leaders want at least a cost-of-living rise after the freeze on pay in 2006/7, but have been forced to admit there are ‘no guarantees’ this will be achieved.
Negotiators also want to secure additional funding for global sums to cut the number of practices that rely on the MPIG. About nine out of 10 currently receive additional pay through this mechanism.
But GPs have been told in negotiating meetings that there are ‘no significant additional resources available’.
Asked if the DoH aimed to cut the cost of GMS in 2007/8, Dr Meldrum said: ‘The DoH would like to cut the cost of GMS.
‘Most changes we would want to make to the contract would need a significant amount of extra money.
‘More money in global sums to get rid of MPIG or a new formula would need extra money.
‘In the present economic climate that is unlikely. [However] we want as a minimum an inflationary rise to keep GP pay in line, but there are no guarantees.’
He pointed out that chancellor Gordon Brown last month called for public sector pay rises of no more than 2 per cent in 2007/8, a figure that is below inflation.
Dr Meldrum said that Gordon Brown was pushing for low in-creases because ‘he does not want to inherit a big deficit when he becomes prime minister’.
Negotiators have also confirmed that the lack of funding will restrict changes to the quality framework, and is likely to mean no new domains will be added.
Dr Meldrum said that changes to thresholds and minor reallocation of points were the type of alterations to expect.
He said workload for the chronic kidney disease (CKD) indicator had been ‘bigger than expected’.
‘We might realign some points to take account of that,’ he said.
The CKD domain had ‘raised the most question marks’ of all the domains added in 2006/7, he added. Depending on the availability of evidence, he said further changes were possible to clarify when patients should be exception reported for abnormal eGFR results.
Dr Meldrum also said there may be changes to clarify when patients should be transferred to secondary care for treatment.
GPC member Dr Fay Wilson said the lack of extra funding was not a surprise. But she added that if negotiations did not bring a pay rise, the GPC would have the option of asking the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body to price the contract.
Issues for 2007/8 contract talks:
- No guarantee of inflationary pay rise.
- The GPC says the DoH wants to cut GMS costs.
- More points and indicator changes for CKD.