LMCs condemn 'nasty, vindictive' plan to name GPs earning over £150,000

LMCs have hit out at 'nasty, vindictive' plans to name GPs earning over £150,000, warning the move will undermine recruitment and could force doctors to reduce their working hours.

GPs at a special conference of LMCs on 11 March said naming doctors earning over £150,000 threatened to create a misleading picture of GP pay and put doctors off partnership roles - and could undermine doctors' relationship with patients.

Plans to name higher-earning GPs were outlined as part of the five-year contract agreement unveiled last year, and the 2020 agreement backed by the BMA confirmed the move will go ahead from October.

Thousands of GPs could be affected - with NHS Digital figures suggesting that around 15% of the profession earn above £150,000 before tax. However, these official pay figures include both NHS and non-NHS income, meaning the number of GPs affected by the new transparency rules will be lower.

GP contract

The GP contract agreement for 2020 confims that 'NHS earnings will be defined initially as GP pensionable income' - but warns that 'the scope may be broadened in future years'.

Dr Simon Carruthers from Hull and East Yorkshire LMC said plans to publish the names of doctors earning above £150,000 seemed 'nasty and vindictive', and designed to provide headline fodder for tabloid newspapers.

'I anticipate that once pay data is published we will be able to measure in milliseconds how long it takes tabloids to get hold of it and use it against us,' Dr Carruthers told the conference. The consequence, he said would be 'GPs reducing their hours and avoiding innovation to keep earnings down'.

Gateshead and South Tyneside LMC's Dr Paul Evans pointed out that partners income could vary for reasons outside their control. 'Small practices are crying out for GPs that they can’t get,' he said.

Partners

Some partners had seen their income rise because they had been unable to recruit additional partners - and as a result were earning more, but working unsustainable long hours.

'This is taking a toll on people's lives - and they should not be punished for it,' Dr Evans said. 'This will not improve care - it's not good for GPs or for patients - it's an act of vindictiveness.'

He warned that naming higher earners could make recruiting partners even harder - at a time when the profession has lost 1,000 partners in the 12 months to December 2019.

GPC deputy chair Dr Mark Sanford-Wood told the conference the move had been agreed during negotiations over the five-year contract in return for major benefits such as funding guarantees over five years - and in particular free state-backed GP indemnity.

He said the GPC had raised concerns over publishing names of doctors earning over £150,000 - but that give and take had been required in negotiations.

Read the motion in full:

AGENDA COMMITTEE TO BE PROPOSED BY NORTH AND NORTH EAST LINCOLNSHIRE: That conference, regarding pay transparency:

(i) believes that the naming of individual GPs with total NHS earnings above a given threshold would be misleading, risk disincentivising the recruitment of partners, and encourage colleagues to work less

(ii) entirely rejects the naming of individual GPs with total NHS earnings above a given threshold

(iii) calls for earnings to be published anonymously by age band, gender, and HEE region, as for consultant colleagues. 

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