GPs’ earnings

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Dr Robert Liddell (Letters, 1 August) may recall the comments made by British Medical Association (BMA) negotiators in the aftermath of their dealings with the NHS Confederation team who acted for the Labour government.

The BMA’s Simon Fradd said: “None of us believed we could pull it off so obtaining an opt-out of out-of-hours care for 6 per cent of the contract was stunning – a bit of a laugh.”

Too late Labour health secretary Patricia Hewitt admitted the government should have capped the profits doctors could take out of the practices because of the soaring sums.

And NHS Confederation chief Gill Morgan admitted offering too many sweeteners and underestimating “how strongly GPs respond to an incentive that gives them money”.

In 2003 GPs earned around £70,000 a year which the contract raised to some £100,000 and any still willing to do a little evening work were paid an extra £200 an hour.

By 2010 a thousand GPs earned more than £200,000 and the incoming coalition instituted a pay freeze to stop their salaries getting totally out of line with other medics.

But the key fact is that nine out of ten practices immediately opted out of providing care and, as early as 2006, A&E departments were complaining of huge increases in patients.

(Dr) John Cameron

St Andrews