Pay freeze must continue, says NHS Employers

GP pay looks set to remain frozen in 2014/15 despite years of restraint and rapidly falling morale, after the organisation leading contract talks with the GPC backed a continued freeze on NHS staff pay.

Pay: NHS Employers demands continuing freeze on pay
Pay: NHS Employers demands continuing freeze on pay

In evidence submitted to the review body that advises the government on NHS employees' pay, NHS Employers argued that pay must remain frozen in 2014/15.

It argued that a 1% rise in NHS staff pay would cost £500m and is 'unaffordable and unnecessary'.

On Friday this week, it plans to echo this message in evidence to the DDRB, which advises the government on doctors' pay. Evidence from NHS Employers will be limited to advising the DDRB on pay for doctors directly employed by the health service, with NHS England set to submit separate evidence on pay for GP contractors.

However, NHS Employers is leading negotiations on the GMS contract with the GPC on behalf of NHS England.

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said: 'GPs haven't even received a pay freeze in the last year, as we've seen repeated pay cuts year after year.

'NHS Employers, NHS England and the DH need to wake up to the reality that young doctors don't want to be GPs and if they don't start to seriously address this then we will see a crisis in general practice that is far more serious than the recent A&E problems. Treating GPs fairly is part of this solution.'

The call for a continued pay freeze comes after a vote at this week's Labour Party conference in favour of dropping public sector pay restraint.

Public sector union Unite has also called for the pay freeze to end, demanding a flat rate cash rise for all NHS staff in 2014/15.

NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles said this year's submission was 'the most significant evidence we have submitted to the review body for some time'.

'NHS pay is already competitive and increasing year on year for most staff,' he said.

Mr Royles said he would 'love it if we could increase pay for our incredibly hard working staff'. But he added: 'We are already seeing considerable pressure on our ability to maintain staffing numbers and any such increase is bound to add to the pressure, impact on patient care and undermine job security. So a pay increase is not appropriate this year.'

NHS Employers' calls for a continued freeze on pay follow a series of warnings about rising workload in general practice and plummeting morale. A DH-commissioned poll found stress among GPs was at its highest level in 15 years, and a BMA poll found GP morale was in freefall as bureaucracy cut time with patients.

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