The BMA said today (Thursday 1 March 2007) that the 2007–08 settlement for doctors was a "black day for general practice", and that UK doctors would feel betrayed and insulted to be offered such a derisory pay deal.
The government has announced that GPs will not receive a pay rise in 2007. GPs are the only NHS staff members to receive a 0% pay increase, with nurses and other healthcare professionals receiving a 2.5% pay rise.
Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said: "These are sensible increases, fair for staff, consistent with the government's inflation target and affordable for the NHS."
She added: "GP profits are estimated to have increased by more than 50% since the introduction of the new General Medical Services (GMS) contract. This has come with significant improvements in the quality and range of services for patients, but I welcome that the [Doctors' and Dentists'] Review Body has recognised that GPs are well-rewarded for the work they do."
However, BMA Chairman Mr James Johnson warned: "Doctors will not sit idly by while their negotiated pay contracts are chiselled away, year in and year out. It looks as if doctors have been hit by a double whammy. Not only does the review body appear to have bowed to government pressure, but the government has phased an already miserly award."
Chairman of the BMA's GPs' Committee, Dr Hamish Meldrum, said: "This is a grievous insult to GPs. A zero increase equates to a pay cut. For the second year running, not only will GPs get nothing to keep up with the cost of living, they will still have to meet all the annual increases of running their surgeries, including paying their staff.
"Does the prime minister really think family doctors will want to deliver the government's 'care closer to home' agenda when they are treated like this? GPs negotiated their new contract in good faith, have worked flat out and have delivered a quality-of-care second to none. Patients value their family doctors – what a travesty that the state values them
A shortage of family doctors is already predicted for the years ahead. Dr Meldrum added: "This is a black day for general practice. A pension cap has already been announced. It would not surprise me if many GPs feel they should cut their losses and leave the NHS. This blow will be the breaking point for many and that will be a dire loss for patients."