Fears over plans to cut GP trainee pay supplements

Fears over plans to cut GP trainee pay supplements

Plans to strip trainee GPs of salary supplements they receive during their training could worsen the GP workforce crisis and compromise patient care, the Royal College of General Practitioners has warned.

Around 4,000 GPs could be affected, with some GPs in training being paid up to 31% less than hospital trainees - amounting to several thousand pounds each.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker claims that proposals made by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) will deter medical graduates from going into general practice training at a time when there is already a severe shortage of GPs and waiting times for a GP appointment are now a matter of national concern.

She has written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt telling him that, if implemented, the proposals would "make it impossible to achieve the Government’s target of increasing the number of GPs by 5,000 by 2020".

Matters relating to doctors pay are usually left to the British Medical Association - but the RCGP says it has taken the "extraordinary" step of writing to the Health Secretary on the issue because it is so concerned about the negative impact the proposals could have on GP recruitment and, ultimately, the long-term future of general practice and patient care.

In her letter - also sent to NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens and Ian Cumming, Chief Executive of Health Education England – Dr Baker says: “I am extremely concerned that this proposal, if implemented, would have a catastrophic impact on GP recruitment, leading to a worsening of the current workforce pressures that general practice is under and compromising the ability of GPs to continue to provide safe patient care.”

The RCGP estimates that England is already 3,300 GPs short and that an additional 8,000 GPs are needed over the next five years to manage the rocketing demand of a growing and ageing population, with patients now routinely presenting with multiple and complex conditions.

In her letter, Dr Baker suggests that the DDRB proposals could “see the disparity between the salaries of GP and hospital trainees of up to 31%” and that they “fly in the face of” the DDRB’s own requirement to “recruit, retain and motivate doctors'."

The College acknowledges that the DDRB proposes to compensate the removal of the GP trainee supplement through the introduction of a geographically-dependent flexible pay premium. But Dr Baker expresses concern that “the proposals do not guarantee this payment for all… [and] this mechanism will be perceived by potential trainees as insufficient to provide them with the certainty that they require to attract them into choosing general practice."

A Department of Health spokesperson said: "These proposals, endorsed by the independent pay review body set out a fairer deal for all medical and dental trainees so that their pay relates to actual hours worked. We want to encourage trainees to take up specialities like general practice, and these plans provide incentives to do so. We are also increasing GP training places and working on a national recruitment campaign with the RCGP to help deliver 5,000 more doctors in general practice."

By Mark Gould

On Medica, Tuesday 11 August 2015

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