Welsh practices face £5,300 prevalence hit

An average quality framework score is now worth around £5,300 less in Wales than it is in England, after the disease prevalence gap between the two countries widened drastically last year.

GPC Wales has reacted by renewing calls for a ‘Welsh factor’ to top up quality pay.

The losses have increased from around £4,700 on average in 2005/6, GP leaders say. They are the result of separate calculations for each UK country to weight quality pay for disease prevalence.

Practices have to work harder to achieve an average score because disease prevalence is high in Wales. The effects of high disease prevalence on pay in Wales are greater than in Scotland or Northern Ireland because list sizes are also high.

GP leaders dropped calls for a Welsh factor last year because a directed enhanced service for IT was agreed as a compromise source of additional pay.

But GP leaders say a Welsh factor is now vital after the DES was scrapped for 2007/8.

GPC Wales chairman Dr An-drew Dearden said that provisional national prevalence data for 2006/7 showed that Wales had about 15 per cent more patients on disease registers than England, up from 10 per cent in 2005/6.

‘The gap is widening,’ Dr Dearden said. ‘Whether we have reached the true figure is difficult to know — the gap may continue to grow. It is vital that this is addressed.’

GPC Wales deputy chairman Dr Andrew Bailey agreed recognition of the extra workload for Welsh practices was vital.

He pointed out that parts of England where prevalence was comparable to that in Wales, such as the Black Country in the Midlands, were compensated for the extra work because they were measured against the English average.

‘If people coming into the pro-fession see a shortfall in funding here compared to in England, that will produce problems for recruitment and retention of GPs in Wales,’ Dr Bailey said.

He added that high numbers of GPs in Wales were close to retirement.

A Welsh Assembly spokesman said health minister Edwina Hart, who was appointed last week, had not yet considered a pay top-up.

‘There is no evidence it is difficult to get new GPs to work in Wales,’ he said.

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