GP wage structure defended
HEALTH bosses have defended the GP wage structure after it emerged that one Norfolk doctor earns more than �300,000 a year.An investigation revealed that one of the highest paid GPs in the country is based in a surgery in the county while the average wage for a practitioner here is �111,000.
HEALTH bosses have defended the GP wage structure after it emerged that one Norfolk doctor earns more than �300,000 a year.
An investigation revealed that one of the highest paid GPs in the country is based in a surgery in the county while the average wage for a practitioner here is �111,000.
The figures found that one Norfolk GP earned �310,000 per year even after staff costs had been subtracted but there was a huge disparity in pay to doctors in different parts of the country.
However NHS Norfolk said because of contractual arrangements it does not control what individual GPs earn.
David Stonehouse, NHS Norfolk's deputy chief executive and director of finance, said: “I can confirm that a GP in NHS Norfolk's area earns around �310k per year. However, NHS Norfolk does not pay GPs directly, and therefore does not control how much GPs earn as individuals.
“Instead, we award each GP practice a contract to deliver services in a certain area and pay the practice based on this contact. The practice then decides how to distribute the payment internally.”
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He said the figures show that payments made locally are similar to those made nationally.
For example, figures for 2006/7 show that 40.9pc of NHS Norfolk-based GPs earned between �100,000 and �150,000. This compares to 40.8pc of GPs nationally earning between these figures.
However, Mr Stonehouse said: “NHS Norfolk has been working with practices across our area to ensure that there is equity of funding and contracts continue to offer value for money.
“This means we are consistently reviewing the services which GP practices are providing locally and investigating whether they should be paid more or less to reflect these changes.”
The new figures, ascertained by the Daily Mail's Freedom of Information request, also found family doctors were being paid more than �200 an hour for working evenings at the weekends, something they did for free before 2004 until the contract moved responsibility to primary care trusts.
The newspaper received 22 responses from primary care trusts, which were asked for the family doctor with the largest earnings in their district.
NHS Norfolk has confirmed it will not disclose the name or address of the GP earning �310,000.
Dr Simon Lockett, medical secretary for the county's Local Medical Committee and a Norfolk doctor, said that if a GP worked hard to achieve this amount they were entitled to it.
“I can see how the average person thinks this is a lot of money for a GP to earn, because it is,” he said. “But if someone works hard to earn this money then like any profession they hopefully deserve it.”
The Department of Health said the wages were justified because of the improvements in recruiting and keeping doctors but they also stated that GPs have seen no pay increases in the last three years.
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “Before the new contract, GP recruitment and retention was a real problem. Since then we have achieved dramatic improvements in GP services as well as getting better value for money out of the contract.”
NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney was unable to release any statistics. A spokeswoman said: “The PCT does not hold details of individual GPs' salaries and would be unwilling to release any such data it might hold as this is personal information and to do so without individuals' consent would contravene data protection legislation.”