The Government is considering publicly listing contractors earning above £150,000 a year from the NHS, The Pharmacist has learned.
This is an extension to current rules for GPs, as set out in the new GP contract published on 31 January: ‘GPs with total NHS earnings above £150,000 per annum will be listed by name and earnings in a national publication, starting with 2019/20 income.’
The contract adds: ‘The Government will look to introduce the same pay transparency across other independent contractors in the NHS at the same time.’
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has clarified to The Pharmacist that ‘consideration is underway for how this might be implemented’ for pharmacists and said it will be announcing proposals in due course.
Plans mentioned in previous negotiations
The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee’s (PSNC) director of NHS services Alastair Buxton said: ‘We are aware of NHS England’s stated intention to introduce pay transparency across independent contractors, following the agreement on publication of GP earnings above £150,000 per annum within the revised [GP] contract.
‘It is a matter that has also arisen in previous negotiations, but the DHSC and NHS England have not yet returned to the subject in recent discussions with PSNC.’
The NHS already publishes data for every pharmacy that can be used to assess their NHS funding levels, such as information on dispensing levels and provision of advanced services, he added.
The GP contract says the move towards publishing doctors’ NHS earnings aims to increase ‘pay transparency’ so as to ‘safeguard public trust in the GP partnership model’.
Head of corporate affairs at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) Gareth Jones said: ‘Transparency in relation to payments by the NHS to independent health service contractors is an entirely reasonable principle, but in the case of community pharmacy it will not be easy to calculate meaningful and accurate NHS earnings.
‘The figures could very easily be misinterpreted and serve to confuse rather than enlighten taxpayers, so the full context of the calculation would need to be presented.’
GPs reacted to the news in January with outrage, calling it a ‘name and shame exercise’ and ‘diversion tactics’ from the earnings of top NHS officials.
They also raised concerns about whether the scheme will take into account payments for sickness/maternity and the differences between full and part-time workers, arguing that the system may ‘discourage full-time working’.