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Pay rise announcement fails to confirm salary increase for practice staff

by Valeria Fiore
25 July 2018

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The Government has announced a 2% pay increase for independent contractors and salaried GPs, which will be backdated to April 2018.
Responding to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) report, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock announced pay rises for both groups, while speaking in Parliament yesterday.
Mr Hancock said the pay rise would be backdated to 1 April 2018 and that practices will see ‘a further 1% added to the value of the GP remuneration and practice staff expenses through the GP contract, supplementing the 1% already paid from April 2018 and making a 2% uplift in all’.
He concluded: ‘This will enable practices to increase the pay of practice staff.’
However, the department of health and social care confirmed that as independent contractors, it will be for GP partners to decide how they allocate the contract uplift.
DDBR recommendations
The DDRB had asked for a minimum 2% increase to the national salary scales for salaried GPs and dentists across the UK and a minimum 2% increase, after expenses, for independent contractors.
However, Mr Hancock did not take into account the additional recommendation made by the DDRB, that in order to better retain and recruit GPs, there should be a total pay increase of 4%.
The DDRB said: ‘We recommend for independent contractor GMPs an additional increase in pay, net of expenses, of 2% above our minimum pay recommendation.’
‘We make a similar additional 2 per cent recommendation to the maximum and minimum of the salary range for salaried GMPs’
A ‘concerning’ announcement
Mr Hancock added that from April 2019, practices could potentially see a further 1% increase ‘to be paid from 2019/20 conditional on contract reform, through a multi-year agreement from 2019/20’.
Commenting on the pay announcement, BMAs GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘It is deeply concerning that the government has chosen not to honour the findings of its own independent pay review body across the entire NHS, but specifically for GPs.
‘The nation’s beleaguered family doctors and their hard working staff should be receiving at the very least, a 4% pay rise, as recommended by the pay review body, simply to keep services for patients running.’
The announced pay rise may not necessarily lead to salary increases for practice staff and Mr Hancock cannot give that assurance, says Practice Management Network co-chair Steve Williams.
Mr Williams said:  ‘GP [partners] are independent contractors and are not obliged to follow the guidelines for Agenda for Change (AfC). This means the DDRB recommendation is only indicative and there is no guarantee that it will be translated into actual pay rises for staff.
He added that although some practices do follow the AfC, many other staff are still on the national living wage.
He continued: ‘We are a skilled profession and salaries should recognise that. However, the only people that can make this happen are the contract holders.
‘I fear that non-clinical practice staff have been overlooked yet again [despite the fact that], with all the recent innovations in primary care, they are being expected to take on a greater workload which is being transferred from the clinical domain.’