You may well have seen that the Scottish Government has announced a 2.5% uplift in pay for all doctors backdated to April.
For GP partners this will be delivered through a 3.23% (made up of the Global Sum and the Income and Expenses Guarantee) uplift to the total contract value that will be delivered in a way so that all practices, including those with an income and expenses guarantee, will benefit from the increase in full. All practices will receive this uplift in their October payment.
As I’m sure most of you are aware, each year the cost of running a practice increases in line with inflation. As with previous years there will be a separate increase (of 1.9% on expenses) to address this and keep pace with costs.
The GP contract requires additional funding for practices with growing patient lists. This year practices with increasing list sizes will receive a portion of the global additional funding for the increasing population which totals £4.2m.
In addition to these increases, there will be a 3% increase for practice staff to match agenda for change uplift – SGPC encourage and expect practices to use this to deliver a pay increase to their staff, so I would urge you all to do exactly that.
Whilst the pay uplift is welcome, it also needs to be viewed in the context that for years doctors have endured real-term cuts to their pay in Scotland – coming at the same time as the job itself gets harder and more demanding, with fewer GPs dealing with excessive workloads due to spiralling demand and covering for growing, and often underreported, vacancies.
I know how hard things have been recently for GPs out there in the service, devoting their working lives to caring for people. That’s why there is a still a long way to deliver the aims we set out in the new contract and restore hope to the profession. There is no doubt we still urgently need more GPs in Scotland, and we need better incentives for young doctors to choose this career path.
This pay uplift is a step in the right direction, but as I said, there is still a long way to go. We have lobbied the government long and hard for a better pay deal, and we do not underestimate the significance of going beyond public sector pay policy for senior doctors, in particular within tight public sector spending constraints.
So, while at the BMA, we believe this package overall is a reasonable start, I don’t suspect for a second that you will now be content that everything is perfect.
The issues our NHS workforce face are far from solely about pay; we have long argued for comprehensive action on recruitment and retention. But even with wider action it is inescapable that doctors, and aspiring doctors, need to feel truly valued, and that includes a genuine reversal of many years of pay erosion we have experienced, something we are all still waiting to see happen.
Patricia Moultrie is the Deputy chair of the SGPC
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