DoH says Review Body has no role in GMS pay

Exclusive: The Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body has no role in recommending pay under the new GMS contract, the DoH has claimed.

This directly contradicts the GPC view that the Review Body should recommend an increase for 2007/8 after negotiations with NHS Employers stalled.

Contract negotiations have not been officially terminated but are at a standstill because the two sides are deeply divided.

Last month GP leaders insisted on an above-inflation pay rise of around 4 per cent, but NHS Employers' negotiators acting for the DoH pushed for 2.5 per cent or less. GP leaders said even this was in return for additional work.

The GPC is prepared to continue the negotiations, but submitted evidence to the Review Body last month as a negotiated settlement became increasingly unlikely. It called for a 4 per cent rise to all elements of the GMS contract, including the quality framework.

However, a DoH spokesman told GP this week: ‘The Review Body's role is about GP pay; it does not have a role on the new contract, which is about services being delivered by practices.'

The spokesman said practice-based contracts covered the pay of other health professionals as well as GPs. He added that, because GPs received pay from enhanced services and personal work as well as the national contract, ‘it would be extremely difficult for the Review Body to determine increases in overall GP remuneration'.

‘We therefore do not believe it would be possible for the Review Body to disentangle these factors and make meaningful recommendations in time to report for 2007,' the spokesman said.

The Review Body is expected to report in early 2007, and will decide for itself whether to make recommendations. A spokesman said that no decision had been reached.

The Review Body has traditionally recommended pay rises for all doctors and dentists, but since the new GMS contract took effect its role has been limited to recommending rises for salaried GPs, registrars and trainers. GMS increases have been agreed between the GPC and DoH.

GP leaders say the GMS contract does not rule out asking the Review Body to recommend practice income. GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: ‘The Review Body has always been the way doctors' and dentists' pay has been determined.

‘Since we are only talking about a percentage uplift to the contract, we think it is appropriate for the body to comment on what it thinks GPs should receive.'

He said there had ‘never been any suggestion' that the Review Body was not able to make recommendations on new GMS pay.

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