Exclusive: Pay rise is number one priority for GPs

More than a third of GPs believe that the top priority for GPC negotiators for 2008/9 should be to achieve a pay rise, a GP survey has revealed.

Pay rise is number one priority for GPs
Pay rise is number one priority for GPs

This is an increase of 16 per cent compared with survey results from last year (GP, 1 September).

The findings appear to reflect a growing discontent among GPs about the pay freeze.

Practices saw an average fall in NHS income of 6 per cent in 2006/7, the first year in which core GMS pay was frozen. A further fall is predicted in 2007/8 after GPs again saw pay frozen.

The survey of GPs at this month's annual LMCs Conference showed that 39 per cent believed that achieving a pay rise equal to or above inflation should be the number-one aim of the GPC.

The second most popular priority was MPIG protection, which received 21 per cent of the votes.

Survey results from last year showed that the main priority (38 per cent) for GPs in 2007/8 was to ensure that no extra work was added to the quality framework.

But, this year, priorities seem to have shifted, with only 19 per cent of GPs voting for no change to the quality framework.

Commenting on the survey results, GPC chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said that stopping the erosion of GP pay was the priority for the GPC in 2008/9.

'I would only want to see change to the MPIG if there was some investment in the global sum, but this seems unlikely,' he said. 'We are always looking at changes to the quality framework where appropriate. It is something that is kept under constant review.

'Chronic kidney disease, for example, is an area that may be updated as the current workload appears to be too much.'

Speaking exclusively to GP earlier this month, health minister Andy Burnham refused to speculate on whether GPs could expect a pay rise in 2008/9.

'I really would talk myself out of a job if I was to talk about next year's pay round,' he said. 'That goes well beyond my pay grade.'

The DoH was unavailable for comment as GP went to press.

NHS Employers head of primary care contracting Chris Dowse said: 'These results come as no surprise as they reflect the issues we discussed with the GPC during negotiations.'

Over 80 per cent of survey respondents said Dr Meldrum should remain as GPC chairman even if he fails to negotiate a pay rise for 2008/9.

Just 13 per cent of GPs called for the GPC to ballot GPs on taking industrial action following this year's pay freeze.

Dr Meldrum said it was clear from debates at the LMCs Conference that GPs did not favour industrial action.

'There is a strong realisation that industrial action is not appropriate at this stage,' he said.

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