GPs to learn this month if pay rise will top 1% as ministers consider DDRB advice

Ministers are considering independent advisors' advice on GP pay for 2018/19 and could reveal this month whether the profession will be awarded more than a 1% 'interim' rise agreed earlier this year.

DH headquarters - ministers considering DDRB advice (Photo: Emma Platt)
DH headquarters - ministers considering DDRB advice (Photo: Emma Platt)

GPonline has learned that a report from the Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) setting out advice on GP pay for 2018/19 has now been received by the government. GP leaders say a final decision on the full pay rise for the profession is likely to be revealed in July.

General practice is set to receive a £256m increase in overall investment in the current financial year under a deal announced in March.

The deal included a £102.9m package intended to deliver a 1% pay rise for GPs and staff, and a 3% increase for practice expenses in line with the CPI measure of inflation. However, the BMA has said from the outset that this 1% increase for pay was an interim figure that it would not accept as the final deal.

GP pay rise

BMA evidence to the DDRB called for a 2% rise for pay, on top of a 4% increase for inflation, pointing to 'strong evidence' of the impact that 'year after year of below-inflation increases' and heavy real-terms pay cuts were having on the NHS' ability to recruit and retain doctors.

Evidence from the government to the DDRB acknowledged severe pressures on the profession, highlighting falling GP numbers, a huge real-terms decline in income for the profession over the past decade and a sharp drop in the number of sessions GPs work.

GP leaders have also warned that general practice will need a significant increase in funding to enable practices to compete with higher rates of pay offered to nurses through the recent NHS pay deal. The deal will give NHS staff at least a 6.5% pay rise over three years through the Agenda for Change pay scales, after the government ended the long-standing 1% cap.

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey said he had 'no hard information' about when the DDRB report and the government's final decision on the pay rise would be made public, but predicted July based on the usual timeline for the process.

DDRB report

'Looking at the previous timeline for DDRB reports, usually we do oral evidence in December, the report is prepared by February, then in March the DHSC makes an announcement. This time we did oral evidence in April, so reports could be ready by June and out next month,' the GPC chair said.

He said it was vital that practices were told soon what the final pay increase would be. 'It is important because practices want to see about what resources they have for the coming year, to know what they themselves will be paid and what they can pay their staff.

'It is not acceptable for this to continue for too long, because it creates uncertainty in staff members, especially when they see colleagues in hospitals given certainty around the Agenda for Change award.'

Commenting on the BMA's evidence to the DDRB earlier this year, Dr Vautrey warned: 'After a decade of pay cuts, it is time GPs and their staff received a proper pay increase. We have therefore provided strong evidence to the DDRB that doctors should be given an uplift of RPI + 2%, to bring us in line with the wider economy and we expect the government to fund any DDRB recommendation.'

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