Leading healthcare publication Pulse has revealed that the Department of Health (DH) is planning to set GPs’ pay uplift for 2016/17 according to where they are practising in order to alleviate the ‘recruitment crisis’.
It is understood that Health Minister David Prior has written to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) asking the regulator to consider how an average uplift of one per cent ‘could be applied to improve recruitment and retention’.
A DH spokesperson confirmed to Pulse that they would soon begin consultations with the DDRB on whether practices’ funding uplift could be dependent on where a practice is based.
This is part of the Government’s £10m ten-point plan to boost recruitment to areas where there is a lack of practising GPs.
David Prior’s letter, seen by Pulse, sets the remit for next year’s funding uplift, and calls on the review body to look at ways that it can set a one per cent ‘average’ pay uplift for GPs.
The DDRB is expected to look at evidence from the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employers to decide where the funding uplift will translate into a one per cent pay rise to attract new GPs.
The letter said: “For general medical practitioners and general dental practitioners, the Government would welcome the views of the DDRB as to how an overall pay uplift of an average of one per cent could be applied to improve recruitment and retention.”
Health Education England (HEE) has identified six local offices experiencing low fill rates of GP trainees, namely Yorkshire, East Midlands, West Midlands, North East, East of England and Wessex (Isle of Wight only), and it is thought that these maybe some of the areas to be targeted by the new scheme
The Chancellor George Osborne announced in the summer that NHS professionals, including GPs, would see the one per cent uplift cap applied over the next four years, so this move would be a departure from this rule.
In response to Pulses claims, Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chair of the General Practitioners Council, said: “When MPs received an uplift of ten per cent to their own pay, an overall uplift of one per cent for GPs is not going to do much for recruitment and retention, and the more important issue of practice expenses needs to be fully addressed for GPs to even have a chance of getting the one per cent intended.
“Recent experience has shown a one per cent intended rise turning in to a three per cent cut because of the government’s failure to properly invest in general practice.
“All areas of the country are struggling to recruit and retain GPs and so all practices and GPs across the country should receive any uplift.”