However, the revisions are based on guesswork because the only alternative — to ask accountants to re-complete tax returns for the year — is impractical.
DoH statistics agency the Information Centre for Health and Social Care admitted pay statistics published last November were skewed by the accidental inclusion of an unknown amount of employers’ superannuation contributions.
Errors occurred because guidance for accountants on how to show superannuation on tax returns changed during the 2004/5 financial year, creating inconsistency. The agency promised to revise its data after GP revealed accountants’ concerns about the accuracy of pay data (GP, 8 December 2006).
‘The pay analysis did not take account of the changes in GPs’ contributions to their own pensions resulting from their new contract,’ the Information Centre letter said.
Revised calculations show that instead of receiving a pay rise of 30.5 per cent from £81,566 to £106,404 as originally claimed, GPs received a rise of 22.8 per cent to £100,170.
Head of the BMA’s health policy unit Jon Ford said it was possible that GPs had actually earned less than £100,000 in 2004/5.
Mr Ford said that similar problems were unlikely in 2005/6 pay calculations, because guidance for accountants would not be revised again. But he warned that any mistakes would have a greater effect because of increased quality pay.