NHS Employers says salaried GPs' pay should be frozen

NHS Employers has told the independent Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body (DDRB) not to recommend a pay increase for salaried GPs next year.

Funding: NHS Employers has called for a pay freeze for doctors
Funding: NHS Employers has called for a pay freeze for doctors

The advice came in NHS Employers' annual submission to the DDRB, which said the remuneration package for doctors remains ‘highly competitive’ when pension and non-pay benefits are taken into account.

NHS Employers, which represents employer organisations in the NHS, said these benefits remain highly attractive and have acted as a ‘valuable retention and recruitment tool’. The evidence submitted does not include recommendations on GMS funding, but covers all other doctors.

The BMA, which is due to publish its own evidence to the DDRB early next week, rejected the NHS Employers advice.

The GP Earnings and Expenses 2010/11 report published last month by the NHS Information Centre revealed that average income before tax fell 1.8% for salaried GPs and partners in 2010/11.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter said: ‘The argument that continuing the freeze on doctors’ pay will help NHS employers maintain quality of care simply does not stand up to scrutiny.

‘There is already a major problem with morale, with doctors at the front-line dealing with huge efficiency savings and wholesale NHS reorganisation. Maintaining and improving care in the face of probably the biggest ever financial challenge for the NHS requires a more strategic response than just continuing to cut the terms and conditions of its staff. The focus should be on employers working with doctors and other NHS staff to find more efficient ways of delivering care.

‘Junior doctors’ take home pay is dropping, consultants’ pay has been frozen since 2009, and the latest earnings figures for GPs show that their net income continues to fall. On top of this, all doctors have just seen more taken out of their pay to fund higher pension contributions – while the value of their pension benefits is being cut – with further contribution increases due to follow.'

This comes after the GPC said in August that it is 'nowhere near a deal' with ministers on GMS pay for 2013/14 and will defy calls for the independent DDRB not to make pay recommendations.

Former health secretary Andrew Lansley told the DDRB there was ‘no need’ for it to make recommendations on GMS funding for 2013/14 in a letter on 3 July.

NHS Employers director Dean Royles said: ‘Everyone, including doctors, knows these are challenging times for us all. The simple truth is that NHS organisations cannot afford an unnecessary increase in doctors' pay rates over the next year without it impacting on patient care.

‘We understand the frustration felt by many doctors about freezing pay scales, but we know they recognise the financial challenges facing all organisations. Most doctors in the NHS already benefit from annual incremental pay increases and pay progression through training. Any additional increase is unaffordable for the NHS.

‘If we do increase pay, we risk serious consequences for the sustainability of some NHS services and their responsiveness to local needs. It will mean less investment for patient services and a greater risk of NHS job losses.’

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