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GP 3% pay rise ’empty promise’ without attached funding, says BMA

by Emma Wilkinson and Beth Gault
23 July 2021

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A 3% pay rise announced by the Government for NHS staff comes with no extra funding for practices to pay for it, the BMA has pointed out.

The uplift, which was announced this week and will be backdated to 1 April, includes salaried GPs but not junior doctors or GP partners due to their multi-year pay deals.

But GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said the pay rise was a ‘completely empty promise’.

He added that the Department of Health and Social Care had ‘yet again’ completely ignored the hard work of GP partners during the pandemic.

The Government had proposed a 1% pay increase for doctors in March, but has now accepted the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration (DDRP) of 3%.

Dr Vautrey said: ‘It’s shameful for the Government to sell this as a pay rise for doctors, while asking other doctors to foot the bill.

‘Salaried GPs will rightly want to be paid the full uplift announced today; GP partners will rightly be thinking about where that money will now have to come from and what cuts they will have to make to afford it.

‘All GPs have gone above and beyond during the pandemic – yet with this announcement the Government attempts to divide the profession by not giving partners the funding needed to pay the 3% uplift.

‘It’s absolutely critical that the Government provides this additional money to practices now so they are able to do this.

‘Partners will feel that their hard work and sacrifices of the last 18 months – when they have moved heaven and earth to transform services as well as leading the vaccination campaign – have been completely ignored.

‘They will yet again feel undervalued by ministers, further plunging levels of morale when many are at rock bottom.’

‘Callously disregarded’

The BMA also called the pay rise ‘disappointing’, especially as some economists have predicted that inflation could reach nearly 4% this year. 

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Our members have been left exhausted, burned out and on the verge of physical and mental breaking point by the past 18 months. 

‘Junior doctors and GPs on multi-year pay deals in England have given just as much of themselves as all doctors to care for their patients – and yet have been callously disregarded in this pay award and will receive less than their peers. 

‘In all, doctors, including those on multi-year pay deals, have given the same care to their patients. In recognition the Government should now ensure they are all given the same fair pay uplift and it is something we will be calling upon Government to review and think again in the coming days.’

Unison’s head of health and chair of the joint health unions, Sara Gorton, said the increase would ‘fall short of expectations’. 

‘Pay is so important not just for staff but for the NHS too. After the nightmare of the past year, health workers need to know the government has their back and understands what they’ve been through,’ she said. 

‘As staff ready themselves to deal with another wave, the government must speak up and show it values what they’ve done. Not just during the pandemic but in tackling the mammoth backlog too.

‘Unions will now consult their members to determine their approach to the 3% pay award.’  However, health secretary Sajid Javid said this pay rise was a ‘recognition’ of the NHS’s ‘extraordinary efforts’ this year.

This story was originally published by our sister titles, Pulse and Healthcare Leader.