£27,000 swine flu bonus for GPs (who already earn £107,000)
30th July 2009 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1203126/27-000-swine-flu-bonus-GPs-earn-107-000.html
(DailyMail) – Family doctors could see their salaries soar by £27,000 once a swine flu vaccination programme is in place, the Daily Mail can reveal.
Yesterday they were trying to thrash out a deal which could see GPs paid £7.51 for every jab they give to patients.
They are also negotiating with ministers over their performance-related pay.
They want assurances they will not miss out on bonuses even if they have to cancel routine check-ups due to swine flu pressures – which has already started happening.
Every swine flu patient GPs inoculate will need two doses of the vaccine. With the average GP having 1,800 patients, that means a salary boost of just over £27,000.
This figure would give doctors a pay rise some 25 per cent above their usual salary of £107,000.
There are 33,000 GPs in the country and the vaccination programme will cost the NHS £900million in payments to them.
The Government is considering using school nurses to administer the vaccine in an attempt to keep down costs.
It will be up to each GP to decide how the money, which will go back into a practice, is spent.
Some doctors may decide to spend the money to cover extra staff costs but others could choose to pocket the cash.
And it has emerged the practice will get the money even though GPs themselves may not deliver the vaccine – the nurse may carry out the job on their behalf.
Critics said it was outrageous that GPs were asking for extra money to do something that should just be part of their job.
They added that it was extraordinary that GPs are demanding yet more money when their pay has
gone up by 55 per cent in five years, and they are doing seven fewer hours a week thanks to the lucrative contract negotiated in 2003.
GPs will find out in several weeks if their demands have been met.
A spokesman for the British Medical Association told the Health Service Journal: ‘The seasonal flu jab costs £7.51, but because the swine flu vaccination programme will be on a much larger scale there are also other issues to consider, not least the workload for general practice.
‘We want to ensure GPs are still able to provide a good service to patients ill with conditions other than swine flu and that’s why we are continuing to negotiate with the Government on this issue.’
The BMA says GPs should carry out the vast majority of vaccinations because they have access to medical records. But the Government may empower school nurses to ease the cost burden.
The BMA denies profiteering, saying the extra money is needed to pay for the increased hours of work, and to pay for extra staff.
An increase in calls and visits about swine flu means GPs up and down the country have already begun to cancel check ups in the first sign that the NHS is struggling to cope with the outbreak.
As well as asking for more money for vaccinating patients, the BMA also wants to see GPs’ performance-related pay scheme – the Quality and Outcomes Framework – suspended for the duration of any epidemic to ensure they do not suffer a wage cut.
Around a third of GP pay comes from the QOF, and depends on them carrying out tasks such as giving check-ups to patients with high blood pressure and dementia.
But these may have to be cancelled if doctors are overwhelmed with calls and visits from people with flu, leading GPs to become concerned they may lose money.
Matthew Elliott, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘This is an outrageous bit of opportunistic greed by GPs. They have already had massive pay rises for no extra work, so there is no way they should get away with claiming more money for this, too.’