• GPs condemn pay increase of 1.25 per cent, the lowest of the profession in UK
• Move further increases pay gap between Scottish GPs and those in rest of UK, industry bodies say
Health Secretary Alex Neil said the increase, which also covers expenses and practice running costs, would give GPs the 1 per cent salary rise recommended by the pay review body.
But the British Medical Association said Scottish doctors were getting the lowest pay lift of anywhere in the UK and it would further widen the pay gap with the other nations.
Opposition urged doctors not go down the route of industrial action over pay, given their already large salaries.
The pay given to GPs who are contracted to provide services for the NHS must be used to pay their own salaries, but also to cover 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 that an uplift of 2.29 per cent was needed in overall GP pay so doctors could have a 1 per cent salary rise as well as cover their increased expenses.
But the four UK nations have gone against this advice, with England increasing pay by 1.32 per cent and in Wales and Northern Ireland by 1.5 per cent.
Scotland has now emerged as having the lowest increase of all at 1.25 per cent.
Despite this, 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.”
However, the announcement angered GPs, who said it was contrary to Mr Neil’s earlier pledges to invest in general practice.
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.”
Dr McDevitt said the announcement was not, as Mr Neil had implied, an agreement with the profession “but an imposition that has not been negotiated by us“.
Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw criticised the government for trying to suggest “they had a lucrative offer up their sleeve“ for doctors.
“Today proves what we all knew; no such carrot existed and now the Scottish Government looks particularly foolish,” he said.
“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.”