HC Deb 09 February 2001 vol 362 cc708-9W
Mrs. Fitzsimons

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the supplementary report of the Doctors and Dentists Pay Review Body. [150087]

Mr. Denham

I am responding on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the supplementary report of the review body on doctors and dentists remuneration (DDRB), I understand that a similar announcement is being made by the First Minister and the Minister for Health and Community Care in Scotland. Copies of the reports are available in the Vote Office and the Library. I am grateful to the chairman and members of the DDRB for their hard work.

We announced on 18 December that the pay recommendations of the DDRB were being accepted in full and without staging. The DDRB recommended an overall pay increase of 3.9 per cent, for salaried doctors and dentists and general medical and dental practitioners.

To encourage the retention of general medical practitioners, the DDRB has also recommended a 7 per cent. increase in seniority allowances, worth in the region of £500 for a general medical practitioner with 25 years service. This is in addition to the 3.9 per cent. increase in intended average net remuneration.

The supplementary report from the DDRB covers areas of GPs income aimed at meeting the expense of running their practices and any balancing recovery from debts owed by the profession. In its considerations of what provision to make for indirectly reimbursed practice expenses and the operation of the balancing correction the review body have recommended: provision for indirect expenses of £23,790 for each GP; a recovery of £248 per GP in accordance with normal rules; and a joint review by the BMA and Health departments of the operation of the pay system. This should look at handling the cumulative overpayment that has occurred in the system (£2,684 per GP), the operation of the balancing mechanism and forecasting of expenses in time for next year's round.

The Government share DDRB's concerns about the operation of the balancing mechanism, the setting of practice expenses and the management of the cumulative debt. We have decided that the BMA and the Health departments should put work in hand immediately to develop a review of these issues. That being the case, the Government have decided to suspend the balancing mechanism pending the outcome of the review.

The average GP will benefit by a further £248 above what the DDRB have recommended. In addition, we will consider constructively how to manage the cumulative debt of the profession (around £80 million) for the benefit of patients and the development of practices.

DDRB also recommended that urgent agreement was needed on flu vaccination payments. Higher payments to GPs were introduced in last autumn's campaign to increase vaccination coverage of people aged 65 and over. We now propose that the whole cost of these payments, not just the proportion relating to the extra coverage achieved, should remain available for investment in general practice.

The gross income of GPs will therefore increase to £80,300 per annum, as shown in the table, with effect from 1 April 2001.

April 2000 April 2001
1. IANI (includes 2001 seniority increase) 54.220 56,510
2. Expenses provision 24,510 23,790
3. IANI plus Expenses (1+2) 78,730 80,300
4. Balancing recovery (261) 1(248)
5. IAGI (3+4) 78,469 80,300
1 Suspended

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