Exclusive: GPC hits out after pay review body excluded from advising on GMS

The GPC has criticised the DH after it ruled out asking the independent Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB) to advise on GMS pay for 2013/14, warning that continuing cuts to GP funding are 'unacceptable'.

Dr Richard Vautrey: cuts to GP funding are unacceptable
Dr Richard Vautrey: cuts to GP funding are unacceptable

The DH confirmed that although the review body will advise on uplifts to other doctors’ pay, the GP contract will be excluded from this process.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the decision was ‘disappointing’.

The government has said that public sector pay rises will be capped at 1%, and the review body will be considering for other doctors how this should be distributed.

But GP leaders say that GP expenses are continuing to rise at a rate in excess of this figure, and that GPs must be awarded an uplift in line with other doctors on top of funding to cover expenses.

Data from the NHS Information Centre show that average GP practice expenses rose 2.4% from 2008/9 to 2009/10, a trend Dr Vautrey said had continued. Around 60% of gross practice income is taken up by expenses.

Dr Vautrey said: ‘What we have seen in previous years is that expenses are rising so quickly that that has undermined the uplift. Where other doctors have seen their pay frozen, the evidence we are getting is that for GPs pay is falling, not being frozen. We believe that is unacceptable.

‘GPs should not be singled out when they are working harder than ever before.’

Dr Vautrey added: ‘We believe the DDRB is best placed to make a judgement around expenses. The government has decided it will insist on pay and expenses being part of the negotiated settlement.

‘We will be doing our best to ensure we negotiate a settlement with NHS Employers that leaves us in line with other doctors.’

A DH spokeswoman told GP: 'In light of the economic situation, the decision to cap public sector pay increases at 1% has already been made, therefore there is no need for the review body to make recommendations on GP and dental pay for 2013/14.

'As in the last two years, a decision on overall uplift in contract payments will be made taking into account both the expenses a practice incurs and any efficiency gains which can be made.'

Former GPC negotiator Dr Beth McCarron-Nash said it was an 'error' to have excluded the DDRB from ruling on GMS pay. She said independent arbitration by the review body was the 'fairest way to look at the whole package of expenses'.

She added that without an uplift practices could struggle to cope. 'Workload is ever spiralling and falling income means practices have no way to expand to deal with that.'

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