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GPs' pay increase too high

25th January 2007

21052006_motherandbaby1.jpgGP earnings should have been capped, health secretary Patricia Hewitt has admitted.

It comes as new figures reveal average GP pay now tops £100,000 – a 30 per cent increase on last year.

Ms Hewitt told BBC News that in hindsight the government would have wanted to ensure doctors did not take so much in profit through the new GP contract.

But she said the contract had made the career more attractive, driving up GP numbers, as well as improving care.

Figures show before the contract was introduced in 2004, GPs took around 40 per cent of their gross earnings in profit after expenses. This rose to 45 per cent in 2004/5 and has continued to rise.

Average pay now sits at £106,000, with reports of some family doctors earning in excess of £200,000.

The new contract provided financial incentives to GPs for providing extra services, including child health, management of chronic diseases through special clinics and contraception.

It also enabled GPs to opt out of night and weekend care.

The contract has been criticised for failing to offer value for money and adding to the NHS deficit, while doctors’ leaders said GPs had performed well enough to meet targets and earn extra income.

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