The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed that GP practices will receive no additional funding to cover recommended pay rises for salaried GPs and other practice staff, a decision that could cost the average practice up to £40,000. The DHSC announcement follows a recommendation by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) that practices should increase the pay of salaried GPs by 4.5% and that other practice staff should receive an increase of at least £1,400, back-dated to April 2022. The DDRB did not make a formal recommendation about remuneration for GP partners, who are not salaried employees.
Although the Government has accepted the recommended pay rise, the DHSC has confirmed there will be no changes to the funding agreed in the 2019 five-year contract deal for GP practices, which is intended to cover all aspects of practice expenses, including salaries. This means there will be no uplift to practice funding to cover the cost of paying their staff more.
Practices that implement the recommended pay increases face a loss of £35,000 to £40,000 at a time when inflation is already creating increased cost pressures. Practices that do not offer their staff at least the recommended amount will face increased recruitment and retention difficulties at a time when patient demand is rising sharply.
Since 2019, to manage this increasing demand and provide additional support for patients, GP practices have been recruiting a wide range of non-GP healthcare professionals. These newly recruited staff include specialists such as clinical pharmacists, physiotherapists, mental health practitioners and social prescribers, who help people manage long-term health conditions in the community. They also include care coordinators and other professionals who help to improve links with social care providers. By March 2022, there were over 30,000 staff working in non-GP roles in primary care.
However, according to the NHS Confederation, the DHSC decision not to fund the recommended pay increases will reduce the ability of practices to retain their non-GP staff, leading to unsafe gaps in provision and a poorer range of services. It will also undermine the Government’s stated commitment to recruit an additional 6,000 GPs and 20,000 non-GP primary care workers by 2024.