Doctors are finding it too easy to earn high salaries through performance-related pay since new GP contracts were brought in, an MPs' report has claimed.
The contract, which was introduced in 2004, enabled GPs to opt out of providing care out-of-hours in return for a £6,000 drop in salary. It also enables GP practices to earn extra cash through the Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF).
Since it came into force, average GP pay has risen above £100,000. The performance-related pay structure has meant practices can earn extra cash and no cap has been placed on the proportion of income GPs can take as profit.
The report, from the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, said the contract had led to some improvements but was so far failing to live up to expectations.
Doctors earn "points" – which are converted into cash – for reaching a range of targets, including patient satisfaction and managing long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma.
The study follows a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) earlier this year, which found that productivity in relation to GP services has fallen by an average of 2.5% a year.
Tory MP Edward Leigh, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, said: "The new contract has not led to general practices being opened longer or at more convenient times for patients and has failed to improve services for deprived areas. Recent improvements in opening hours have been paid for out of additional money."
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