The DH has updated its evidence to the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB), to include responses to supplementary questions from the expert group.
After receiving BMA evidence on pay earlier this year, the DDRB asked the DH: ‘The BMA has called for a debate on health service funding, focussing on how to reconcile increasing demand with universal and comprehensive care, without targeting the terms and conditions of NHS staff.
‘It comments that doctors are being asked to work increasingly longer hours and more intensely, but without any recognition or compensatory reward, and further on top of continuing real-terms pay cuts. How do you respond to these points?’
DH response criticised
The DH response cites efforts to cut bureaucracy for GPs by reducing the size of the QOF in 2014/15, plans to improve continuity of care by allocating named GPs to patients, and the £150m investment in extending hours over two waves of the Challenge Fund.
It adds that Better Care Fund plans will develop services that work alongside general practice, and mentions plans to drive up GP recruitment.
But GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GP: ‘The DH has completed failed to answer the question or address the issues and I'm sure the DDRB will be able to see that.
‘It is unsustainable to ask GPs and doctors elsewhere in the NHS to do more and more with less and less. The main way that DH and NHS England have responded to the funding crisis has been to freeze hospital doctor pay and cut GP pay.
Impact on GP recruitment
‘This is a fundamental issue that is seriously impacting on GP recruitment and the DDRB can help to begin addressing this through a fair award to GPs.’
The DDRB also questioned the DH about its rejection last year of some pay recommendations, asking: ‘How do you square that position with the public statements about increasing access to the NHS, the continuing growth of the workforce already in the pipeline and possibly in excess of those numbers?’
The DH said its ‘main priority is to protect numbers of frontline staff delivering high quality patient care’.
It said pay rises above 1% would put staff numbers at risk, and confirmed ‘pay restraint continues to be an essential part of the government’s strategy’.
The DDRB also voiced concern that ‘another year has passed without a resolution to the ongoing question of the GP trainer’s grant’.
Dr Vautrey warned: ‘If we want to recruit more GP trainees we'll need more GP trainers and they deserve a real increase to the very small grant that they receive to recognise the extra work they are now having to do.’
* Are you looking for GP Jobs?