Pay award will not boost partnerships

The GP35 gives its reactions to the pay deal to Tom Ireland.

This year's pay award will do nothing to alleviate the pressure on practices that is preventing partnerships for young GPs, say the GP35.

As practice managers across the UK get their head round the elaborate funding formula, GP asked its panel of young GPs how they would be affected by the 2.29 per cent pay award.

'The pay uplift makes for very disappointing reading,' says Dr Dan Bunstone, a GP from Lymm, in Cheshire.

'The government's squeeze on GPs' income is completely counter-productive. With partners' incomes being eroded, on a backdrop of increased costs, there will be fewer opportunities to employ other doctors.'

Partner Dr Al Miles, from Grantown-on-Spey in the Scottish Highlands, believes the pay award is fair, but says the impact of successive pay freezes will never be compensated for.

His practice will be doing whatever it can to keep profits stable, he says. 'We have managed to maintain profits this year but only because we haven't had as much staff sick leave to cover.

'There are new income streams we hope to tap into in order to maintain or increase profits. The new directed enhanced services can channel money from secondary to primary care. There is a limit to these streams though.'

Partner Dr Raj Thakkar, a GP from Wooburn Green, Buckinghamshire, says the award would do little to offset the loss of funding from changes to the prevalence formula, and he expects a pay cut this year.

'I think it's a bit rich that ministers are going to get a bigger pay rise than GPs,' he says, of the 2.33 per cent pay award MPs will receive this year.

With rising expenses and the threat of polyclinics nearby, this year won't be a year to recruit new GPs, says Dr Thakkar. 'Staffing is the highest cost and unless you have a very good reason, you're just not going to take on new partners and staff.'

The dearth of partnerships for young GPs continues to threaten the current model of general practice and is likely to be a major topic of debate at this year's LMC conference in June.

tom.ireland@haymarket.com

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