Editorial: Review Body must assert independence on pay

What income increase can your practice expect in 2010/11?

Yes, it's that time of year again. The Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body is expected to submit its recommendations on practice incomes to the DoH in the next fortnight.

Last year the DoH kept everyone waiting and sat on the report until the last minute before finally publishing on 31 March.

The 2009/10 pay award was a mixed bag, with 70 per cent of practices receiving a minimum core funding increase of 0.7 per cent. However, 10 per cent did enjoy a 12.5 per cent maximum core funding increase.

It was, at least, better news than the previous three pay awards, which had all resulted in pay freezes.

This week GP reveals that practices face funding cuts potentially worth thousands of pounds as PCTs carry out 'productivity challenges' to cut costs.

Interesting, because the Review Body has yet to submit its report.

Back in October the Treasury argued for a GP pay freeze in 2010/11. Later that month the DoH agreed, although to add insult to injury for partners, suggested salaried GPs should have a 1 per cent pay rise.

Before Christmas the DoH gave the Review Body an even bigger steer when its five-year plan, NHS 2010-15: From Good to Great, said practices would effectively have to find 'efficiency gains' of 1 per cent just to keep income at current levels.

This is all very well but is happening against a backdrop of enormous pressure for work to be shifted from secondary to primary care. In London appointment times are even under threat.

The Review Body has received an almost unprecedented amount of steering from government about its wishes for GP pay in 2010/11.

Before making its report, it should remember two things: firstly, it is independent of government and, secondly, everyone agrees that primary care is essential to the future of the health service and should not be destabilised.


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