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Pay rise over 2% for GPs could impact on service delivery, NHS England warns

Pay rise over 2% for GPs could impact on service delivery, NHS England warns
By Eliza Parr
9 April 2024

NHS England has warned the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) against recommending a pay increase above 2% for GPs and practice staff.

In its evidence to the pay review body, NHSE advised that any pay awards higher than the funding settlement from the Treasury will ‘put further pressure’ on the NHS budget.

This could impact on ‘staffing numbers’ and delivery of NHS activity or ‘service improvements’, the national commissioner warned.

The submission stated that within the NHS settlement, ‘funding is available for a pay uplift of 2% for contractor GPs, salaried GPs and other salaried practice staff’.

Since this evidence was submitted to the DDRB in February, NHS England and the Government have imposed a new GP contract for 2024/25 which increased funding by 2.23%.

It was revealed earlier this year that the Government will reconsider its GP funding uplift once the DDRB makes a recommendation on GP pay, but it is not obliged to accept it in full.

This is the first time in five years that the DDRB has been asked to give a recommendation on GP partner pay following the 2019 five-year GP contract deal that had aimed for a 2% year-on-year pay increase.

In its evidence to the pay review body, NHSE said: ‘Pay awards that are higher than the levels contained in the funding settlement, if not supported by additional funding from government, will put further pressure on the NHS budget given the existing funding pressures.

‘This could impact on staffing numbers and the ability to deliver planned activity or service improvements.’

The document gave a similar warning for dentists, saying any pay recommendations ‘not supported by additional funding may leave NHS England with no choice but to cut back services’.

It said: ‘Pay recommendations for general dental services (GDS) in 2024/25 will need to be fair to contractors, recognise the significant income protection provided during the pandemic and represent value for money to the taxpayer; as well as ideally appropriately divided between employed and self-employed staff.’

On Friday, the Government confirmed that it will make changes to the operation of the DDRB, taking into account the views of the BMA, after reaching a pay settlement with consultants.

From next year, there will be changes to the way the body will appoint members, and the Government will not be able to ‘constrain’ its remit with reference to inflation targets and economic evidence.

The DDRB’s terms of reference will also be changed to specifically include developments in earnings over time in the context of long-term trends in the wider labour market, comparator professions, and relevant international comparators.

A version of this story was initially published on our sister title Pulse.

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