An increase in the general practice global sum, intended for funding practice staff pay rises, should be paid to surgeries from this month, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.

But the decision to pass on the uplift will be at the discretion of each employer, and will not apply to Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) staff, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has confirmed to The Pharmacist.

Earlier this week, the government published an amendment online that increases the global sum for GP practices in England from £102.28 to £104.73 per patient, in order to finance a 6% pay uplift for salaried staff, including salaried pharmacists directly employed by the practice.

This follows negotiations with the BMA’s General Practice Committee in England (GPCE).

Practices should receive seven months’ worth of extra money this October, since payments are being backdated to April, the BMA has said.

The extra money is worth a total of £233.14 million for 2023/24 and will be embedded for future years, the GPCE said in a letter sent to practices earlier this week.

Since the uplift is paid via the global sum, all practices will receive the same level of funding regardless of their staffing structures.

And DHSC confirmed to The Pharmacist this week that individual practices were at liberty to set salaries and pay uplifts for their employees, as they are self-employed contractors to the NHS.

Pharmacists employed under Agenda for Change or ARRS are not entitled to the 6% pay rise agreed with the GPCE.

But reimbursement for ARRS salaries has already been uplifted by 5% in line with Agenda for Change pay rises.

The decision to grant ARRS salary uplifts is at the discretion of each primary care network (PCN). And while PCNs are now allowed to spend more on staff salaries, they have not been given any increase in overall funding to do so, which may affect PCNs which employ a greater number of ARRS staff.

Versions of this article fist appeared on our sister titles Management in Practice and Pulse.

How will the GP global sum uplift be distributed?

The letter sent by the GCPE to practices and Local Medical Councils (LMCs) explained that the uplift applies only to the portion of the GP contract used to cover staff expenses. This currently represents 44% of the global sum.

This pot was increased in April 2023 by 2.1% providing an £80.21m. However, as a result of recent negotiations the staff expenses element now benefitted from an additional 3.9% uplift, representing an extra £152.93m, the GPCE explained.

Combining the two rises equates to a total 6% increase to the staff expenses portion of the Global Sum. However, this translates to an increase to the overall Global Sum of 5%, compared with the previous year.

The GCPE letter stated that the extra money ‘will be backdated to April 2023, and a seven-month payment should be made in October 2023 (April – October inclusive)’.

And it went on to add: ‘Colleagues should note this is separate to the Agenda for Change (AfC) 5% uplift, which has already been agreed and has been incorporated into the average Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) funding for those staff roles resourced under the ARRS Scheme in 2023/24.’

The letter signed by Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, chair, GPCE, Dr Mark Steggles, chair, Sessional GPs Committee and Dr Julius Parker, deputy chair, GPCE concludes that: ’It is…the first time in recent memory that a proposed staff pay uplift has been directly linked to Pay Body recommendations, which GPCE believe signals a recognition of both the cost pressures on practices, and also the key value of rewarding all members of the practice team for their hard work in maintaining high-quality patient care as patient demand and workload continue to rise.’

GP partners are bound by the five-year contract and are excluded from the salary uplift.