Most partners not expecting pay rise for 2018/19 as practices 'put staff first'

Six out of seven GP partners in England plan to increase staff pay at their practice after the 2018/19 pay deal announced in July, but just one in six expect their own pay to rise.

Practice staff 'put first' for pay rises (Photo: iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages)
Practice staff 'put first' for pay rises (Photo: iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages)

Findings from a GPonline poll show that 85% of GP partners in England plan to increase staff salaries at their practice following the 2% GP pay award announced earlier this summer.

The pay award was intended to deliver a 2% increase in pay for partners backdated to April 2018 and a 2% increase to funding for staff pay, with minimum and maximum scales for salaried GPs raised by 2% from October.

However, the award fell short of the 4% rise for partners recommended by the independent Doctors and Dentists Review Body (DDRB) and was condemned as 'deeply concerning' by the BMA.

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Findings from the latest GPonline opinion survey suggest that for most practices, the funding is simply not enough to deliver increased pay for GP partners - with 82% saying their own pay would fall or remain unchanged in 2018/19.

Salaried GPs were the most likely type of GP to expect their pay to increase in 2018/19, the poll found - but of 42% expecting their pay to rise, just over a third predicted the increase would be less than 2%. Among locums, 81% said their pay would not change and 10% predicted it would fall. A total of 126 GP partners in England responded to the survey, along with 151 salaried GPs and 105 locums.

The poll also found that 28% of all GPs said their income was down compared with five years ago. For partners, however, it was just over half - while among salaried and locum GPs 14% said pay had decreased.

GP workforce

GPC chair Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline: 'Practices in England will be deeply concerned how they can retain their staff, or recruit new members of the team, when a scarce workforce resource will see how unfairly practices have been treated compared with similar staff on Agenda for Change.

'It’s not surprising therefore that so many GPs are putting their staff first and doing what they can to uplift their pay even if it is at their own personal expense. However, this will do nothing to make being a GP partner more attractive and will ultimately undermine recruitment and retention of GPs.'

The GPC chair welcomed the Welsh government's announcement this week that it would implement DDRB recommendations on GP pay in full given 'how important a fair pay settlement is for GP and practice staff morale'.

The number of GP partners in England has fallen by more than 10% since then-health secretary Jeremy Hunt's 2015 promise to increase the GP workforce by 5,000 full-time equivalent doctors by 2020/21. The latest official data suggest that general practice is currently losing 100 partners a month.

Official data show that income for GP partners across the  UK rose by 4% in 2016/17 - but partners' income in England in 2016/17 remained in real terms 22% below the level it reached in 2005/6 soon after the new GP contract was introduced.

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