Editorial: Why GPs should get at least 1% income uplift

Last week the BMA's annual submission to the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB) argued for a 1% uplift in income for GPs 'as a minimum' in 2013/14.

Ironic perhaps, because only a fortnight earlier, the GP Earnings and Expenses 2010/11 report from the NHS Information Centre revealed that average income before tax fell 1.8% for salaried GPs and partners in 2010/11.

One problem is expenses, up 3.5% in 2010/11, with the proportion of gross income taken up by them increasing to 61% across the UK.

2022GP, the RCGP consultation advocating more GPs and longer training, contains much evidence demonstrating how general practice can and should be the driving force for transforming the NHS. But who would want to be a GP if the prospect includes rising expenses and dwindling income?

In July, the then health secretary Andrew Lansley told the DDRB there was 'no need' for it to make recommendations on GMS funding for 2013/14. A 1% cap on public sector pay increases has been unveiled. Yet GPs and the clinical commissioning groups their practices will be members of are at the heart of the government's NHS reforms. Shouldn't there be some reward for taking on the £20bn Nicholson challenge, when NHS managers are so out of favour, particularly with new health secretary Jeremy Hunt?

In August GPonline.com exclusively broke the story that the quality premium could be worth up to £30,000 for the average practice. How this will work has yet to be defined, but it should be disregarded in GP pay negotiations because it will undoubtedly depend on many factors that are outside GPs' control.

GP income has been eroded for long enough. Ministers are reliant on GPs to make NHS reforms a success. GPs deserve no less than the 1% income increase the BMA is asking for.

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