DOCTORS’ leaders in Scotland have condemned a 1.25 per cent increase in GPs’ pay – the lowest in the UK.
Health secretary Alex Neil said the rise, which also covers expenses and practice running costs, would give GPs the 1 per cent salary increase recommended by the pay review body.
But the British Medical Association (BMA) said Scottish doctors were getting the lowest pay rise in the UK, and it would further widen the pay gap with other parts of the country.
The money given to GPs, who are contracted to provide services for the NHS, is used to cover their salaries and the running costs of their practice, such as heating bills and maintenance, as well as pay for other staff.
The Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body (DDRB), which gives recommendations on pay rises for medics, said a 2.29 per cent rise was needed in overall GP pay so doctors could have a 1 per cent salary increase as well as cover their higher expenses.
But the four UK nations have gone against this advice, with England increasing pay by 1.32 per cent and Wales and Northern Ireland by 1.5 per cent. Scotland has the lowest increase of all, at 1.25 per cent.
Mr Neil said: “I am very pleased that we have successfully agreed on a pay increase for GPs to recognise the valuable work they do to improve the public’s health.
“The increase also recognises the more Scottish GP contract, which was reached in agreement with GPs – unique in the UK – that takes account of workloads and meets the needs of Scottish patients, and I am confident this pay increase for is a fair deal for Scotland’s GPs.”
But Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish GPs committee, said: “I am bitterly disappointed with the news that the Scottish Government has decided, despite its stated support for general practice, not to accept independent review body recommendations and uplift GP income only by 1.25 per cent.
“This is the lowest uplift for GPs anywhere in the UK and will further widen the pay gap between GPs in Scotland and those in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
He said it was not, as Mr Neil had implied, an agreement with GPs “but an imposition that has not been negotiated by us”.
Figures for 2011-12 show average pay before tax for Scottish GPs was £89,300, compared with £107,700 in England.
Margaret Watt, chair of the Scotland Patients Association, said: “We should be trying to bring the pay up to level of England. If we are all British, why are Scottish GPs getting less money than the English ones, because they are just as important.”
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw criticised the government for trying to suggest “they had a lucrative offer up their sleeve” for doctors when such a deal never existed.
He added: “But no matter how disappointed the BMA is with this, I would urge it not to revert to what appears to be its default position of a strike threat.
“GPs need to remember they are well rewarded for their work, and such industrial action would only harm the patients.”