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GPs’ earnings could be published in “transparency agenda”

2 June 2010

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The government’s transparency drive is likely to lead to the incomes of GPs being disclosed, after a list of the top earning public workers was published.

The transparency agenda is designed to “win back people’s trust”, a spokesman for the Cabinet Office said. The government expressed the need to “throw open the doors of public bodies” in its coalition document Programme for government. It said a “full, online disclosure of all central government spending and contracts over £25,000” was required.

“We also recognise that this will help to deliver better value for money in public spending, and help us achieve our aim of cutting the record deficit,” it said.

Department of Health Chief Executive David Nicholson was second in a list of 171 public workers earning in excess of £150,000 which was published on Tuesday. He earns between £255,000 and £259,999.

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “The publication of the list [of public sector workers earning over £150,000] just covered civil servants.

“There is a transparency commitment to cover all public bodies. This is the direction of travel, but it will require consultation with staff.”

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Department of Health

Should GPs’ earnings be disclosed to the public? Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

“Perhaps some people should be reminded that nurses pay £76 to stay on the register. A doctor pays in excess of £5,000 per year. Maybe more than a month”s wage for some doctors. Then there is the overheads for GPs, gas, electric, staff wages, insurance, maintenance contracts, day to day running costs, stationary, postage, courses, furniture, etc. They only get paid  for what they do. If they don’t immunise, they don’t get paid. If they don’t stitch up a wound, they don’t get paid. That’s how the business world normally works isn’t it? The staff have to be  paid regardless how much the GP brings in that month. I would call that near enough a private business. Would you really like to scrutinise their pay if it was you who needed an emergency call out when there are already 10 patients in the waiting room and they comes out immediately?” – “Nurse”, Wales

“It will create more chaos and relation breakdown between GP and patients without any valuable outcome. Unrealistic demand from patients may increase” – Name and address withheld

“Yes as should government officers, NHS leaders, bank bosses, stock exchange workers, judges, QCs and many other ‘top’ line workers. What’s good for one is good for all” – June Bond, West Midlands

“Surely the information on what a practice gets from the public purse to run services is already available. If publication of practice – as opposed to personal – earnings came about then it gives us the chance to show what it costs to run the business and the slim margins we work to, but perhaps more telling, how good a deal the public get as opposed to the management-heavy PCTs and secondary care costs? Also remember that under the new Equality Act it will be unlawful to have salary-secrecy clauses in employment contracts, so everyones’ remuneration is potentially open to scrutiny” – Alan Moore, Cheshire

“No, it is a business, not a direct PAYE, with all the aspects of expenses such as staff, buildings, etc. The vast majority of GPs just want to be doctors. GPs need to look to profit, especially now that it has been eroded for the last four years, but if staff, incl. nurses want to continue in a primary care as we know it, then GPs need to look at keeping the business profitable. I agree with the person who says GP bashing yet again” – David, Derbyshire

“Not all GP pay is publically funded, therefore if disclosure was limited to pensionable pay it would give a fairer reflection of the cost to taxpayers” – Simon Colbeck, Gloucester

“Yes they are ‘private businesses’ but unfortunately with all the perks of being on a public sector payroll and paid from public funds. My earnings are defined by my gross and net payslip. Like the govenment has stated, it wants transparency for highly public paid employees and that is the way it should be. We know how much the prime minister is paid, why so precious about GP pay?” – Nurse, Lancs

“Yes this is a very good idea, after all aren’t GPs paid out of the public purse? Also, since many GP practices were more than willing to turn themselves into businesses and make as much ‘profit’ as they could, should they be now made to pay for their own pensions as in the private sector? They are having their cake and eating it: massive pay packets, gold plated, index linked guaranteed payout. They should be made to take their chance on the pension market like any other small businessman” – Marie, Lancs

“This would depend upon the context of how they were published. GPs’ gross earnings would provide a very inaccurate picture. How would they show a GP’s ‘take home’ pay? If that can be done accurately then why not?” – Janet Porter, Northumberland

“GP earnings should certainly NOT be disclosed to the public. The general public seem to think that GPs work a 4-5 hour day! The two GPs within my own practice earn every penny they get. Both of them work around 60 hours per week and spend their half day and evenings working remotely to catch up on the ever-encreasing dreaded paperwork. Patients do not realise the amount of  effort that doctors put into the practice. Even if they did, they would still begrudge GPs earning a reasonable salary (minute compared to many other professions)” – Anne Fahmy, Kent

“No, this has nothing to do with trust, this is just bash the GPs  again. Other people do not have to disclose their income so why should GPs? What about all the contractors in IT and similar who repeatedly have made a mess of their NHS contracts but still get paid regardless? Why not start with them? Oh let me see, it would reveal incompetence at the heart of government. I doubt there are many practice managers who could not nominate some contractor for “rip off merchant” of the year award. I had one I was required to use (by the PCT) who turned up wanting £500 for less than an hour’s work I declined and agreed a lot less, and when he turned up he did not know what to do because he had forgotten how to do it!” – Name and address withheld

“These are private businesses and unless the government is planning on making it compulsory for everyone to disclose their income regardless of what they do, it would be pretty difficult to achieve. It would also need a careful definition of ‘earnings'” – Name and address withheld