NHS England 'shockingly complacent' over GP funding

The GPC has hit out at NHS England for 'shockingly complacent' claims that falling GP pay is justified because the GP workforce has grown.

Dr Richard Vautrey: NHS England comment 'shockingly complacent' (photo: Jason Heath Lancy)
Dr Richard Vautrey: NHS England comment 'shockingly complacent' (photo: Jason Heath Lancy)

A spokeswoman for NHS England told GP that 'the supply of GPs has risen faster than the population...so their patient numbers - and therefore earnings - have reduced'.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘This is a shockingly complacent response to the clear workload and workforce crisis in general practice. This is a crisis identified by many independent bodies, not only the GPC and RCGP. If we are to ensure a sustainable NHS for the future NHS England and the government needs to study our report carefully and invest in general practice.’

Latest official data show that GP income for PMS and GMS partners slumped 14% in real terms between 2004/5 and 2011/12, and accountants believe GP income may now have fallen 25% since the 2004 contract.

Evidence of rising GP workload is widespread. A GP magazine poll found that 77% of GPs say their job has become more stressful in the past year, with one in five now working more than 12 hours a day, and more than 40% completing 40 to 60 consultations per day.

Meanwhile, the Seventh National GP Worklife Survey, commissioned by the DH, found 86% of GPs reported considerable or high pressure from rising workload.

Since 2000, the number of full-time equivalent GPs in England has grown by 18%, compared with a 61% growth in hospital consultants. However, this is against a backdrop of dramatically increasing patient demand in general practice, with patient consultations in England up 75% between 1995 and 2008, according to the RCGP.

Dr Vautrey called on NHS England to commit to an annual increase in GP funding, which has been decreasing since 2005/6.

But the NHS England spokeswoman said: ‘GPs see more than a million patients a day. We value their work and want them to be properly rewarded.'

She said GPs 'earn average pay of £106,000' - citing the 2011/12 figure for PMS and GMS partners' average income - and said this 'remains over 13% higher in real terms than it was in 2002/3'.

The spokeswoman added: ‘GP numbers are also increasing, with 4,321, or 12%, more working GPs than in 2005/6 when GP pay peaked. This means the supply of GPs has risen faster than the population, which rose by 5.5% over the same period, so their patient numbers - and therefore earnings - have reduced.

‘Patients have benefited from this increased investment in primary medical care. NHS England is now working with the profession to ensure we get the best value from this investment in improving quality of care for patients.’

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