A seven-day access pilot hailed by the Government as a success story has revealed that it is paying newly qualified GPs £90 per hour to staff evening and weekend shifts, while other GPs said it was ‘getting harder’ to staff the shifts.
Seven-day pioneer Dr Ivan Benett revealed that that NHS Central Manchester CCG is paying £90/hour to staff the evening and weekend shifts, which are now being rolled out across the whole of Greater Manchester.
Dr Benett said at the Westminster Health Forum in London: ‘In Central Manchester we have, relatively, more training practices than other parts of the country so for us it has been easier to recruit GPs coming out of training, for example while they are settling down, wanting to find out what they want. So I don’t underestimate the problem and in Central Manchester we’ve been slightly protected from the problems.’
Dr Peter Graves, chief executive of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire LMC, commented that ‘£90 per hour is somewhat higher than the minimum wage’ equating to ‘an annual salary of £176,000 if I have got my maths right (£90 x 37.5 hours x 52.14 weeks per year)’.
‘So the medical cost of this is £1,080 per day per doctor alone, without the nursing and management back-up etc. This is a very expensive service compared to the £136 average reported in Pulse in February (of which BMA claim 62% is running costs), therefore the average f/t GP is earning £103,360 (136 x 0.38 x 2000 patients) – and this is about what is reported by GPC.’
Dr Graves added: ‘The issue is that it is getting harder to get GPs to work unsocial hours; I know of several out-of-hours organisations really struggling to fill shifts. I guess the main reason is that the day job is now so hard and full-on that more hours on top is just too much for them.’
But Dr Benett told Pulse: ‘The payments are for extended hours, not for normal in-hours practice and so it doesn’t really relate to those sorts of sums. It is reasonable to pay extra for unsocial hours. Actually many partners recieve that sort of profit share anyway.’