Asking high-earning GPs to declare their salaries is ‘nonsense’ and could put GPs in danger by pitting their patients against them, say doctors.
NHS England issued guidance on ‘pay transparency self-declaration’ in March this year, asking partners, salaried GPs and locums earning above £156,000 in 2021-22, rising to £163,000 in 2023-24, to make their earnings public.
Introducing a motion at the BMA annual representative meeting on 3 July that says the ‘baseless request… solely seeks to undermine healthcare professionals’, Gateshead GP Samuel Parker (pictured above) questioned whether consultants, judges, head teachers, council chief executives and high-ranking police officers would also be expected to declare their salaries over the threshold.
‘I did not earn more than the Government’s arbitrary threshold, but if I did the sensitive personal information should only go to HMRC,’ said Dr Parker. ‘What a ridiculous suggestion. Why single out GPs?
‘This is a governmental attack on GPs aimed to distract from the ongoing investigation into the ministerial mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis in the health and social care sector.’
Bullying and harrassment
Holding up a copy of the NHS England report, Dr Parker quoted a line saying the Government will look to introduce the same pay transparency policy across other independent contractors within the NHS, warning consultants to ‘consider yourself in the firing line’.
He added: ‘Such nonsense seems unique to the health service and is akin to bullying and harassing dedicated clinicians. This only results in an overworked staff reducing their workload to avoid breaching this threshold. This will clearly hamper the ability to deliver patient care.
‘We are all under attack from the media and the Government. This anti-GP narrative must stop.’
Manu Agrawal, a GP partner in the West Midlands who declared that he did earn enough to breach the pay transparency threshold, said: ‘This policy was only brought in to deflect the blame for this government’s abject failure to provide decent quality healthcare to our population.
‘This is to feed the right-wing media with a narrative that the government has done everything it can to support the NHS and it is the doctors not delivering – the same doctors working 70, 80, 90 hours a week through the worst crisis in the NHS. This is nothing but a political move pitting patients against their doctors.
‘And what about the safety of the profession? We are seeing increasing violence against GP surgeries and GPs. Do we really want to wait until someone gets seriously hurt before we act?
‘Does this improve clinical morale? No. Does this help with recruitment and retention? No. Does this policy do anything at all to help patients? No.
‘Let’s send a message to the government: Get on with the job you were elected to do rather than deflecting the blame onto the people who are actually doing more than they are supposed to do.’
The BMA GPs committee has received reports of GPs reducing their hours to remain under the threshold and has previously said the NHS England pay transparency policy ‘provides no benefit to GPs or their patients, but will potentially increase acts of aggression and abuse toward GPs and practices’.
The motion, which recognises that the policy ‘exacerbates stress and will reduce work undertaken by healthcare professionals’ and calls on the BMA to support members who refuse to declare their income, passed comfortably.