LMCs call for revamped pay scale to recognise seniority

LMCs are calling for a revamped seniority pay mechanism to keep experienced GPs working in primary care.

Seniority pay could keep GPs in the workforce, say LMCs (Photo: iStock.com/SolStock)

A motion listed for debate at this year’s England LMCs conference in London on 23 November calls on the GPC to ‘negotiate an incentive scheme with NHS England to acknowledge the expertise of senior doctors’.

The scheme should provide 'a new system of seniority payments based on years of service', the motion says.

Calls for a revamped seniority pay scheme come just over a year before the five-year process of phasing out the existing seniority pay system is due to end. Seniority payments to GPs began to be phased out in 2015/16 - with no new entrants to the scheme admitted after April 2014.

Seniority pay

Funding for the existing scheme - which offered extra payments to GPs based on the number of years they had worked in the NHS - has been gradually transferred into practices' core funding.

Several LMCs proposed motions on the need for a scheme to boost GP retention by recognising seniority. One motion not prioritised for debate suggests that ‘any GP over the age of 60 doing at least four sessions a week for 30 years or more of clinical work should be given a £25,000 thank you’.

Other motions put forward call for an expansion of the GP retainer scheme and a review of revalidation and appraisal to stop GPs 'timing their retirement to avoid the onerous process of revalidation'.

Official data for March 2018 show that just 286 GPs are currently being supported by the GP retention scheme - a package of financial and educational support to help doctors who might otherwise leave the profession remain in clinical general practice.

GP retention

Although this represents an 80% increase in the numbers of retained doctors since September 2015, the BMA’s latest assessment of the GP Forward View criticised the programme's uptake as ‘relatively low’.

According to the latest national GP worklife survey, 62% of GPs aged 50 and over are planning to quit within the next five years, and statistics from NHS Digital show that around 5,159 GPs left the profession in 2016/17 - equivalent to around 430 a month.

LMCs attending the conference have voiced concerns that this represents a ‘haemorrhaging of experience and weakening of support for younger GPs’.

Earlier this year the RCGP warned that the GP retention scheme needs ‘more significant investment’ to have an impact.

College chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard called for an urgent overhaul of the GP Forward View 'to address the pledges that are not progressing fast enough, particularly around retaining our existing workforce and reducing our workload’.

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