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The Debate: Have GPs' salaries now become too high? Have GPs been the prime beneficiaries of Labour's huge investment in the NHS? Andy Kelly reports.

Byline: Andy Kelly

NO-ONE can question the financial commitment that Tony Blair's Government has made to the NHS. But where argument has raged is over whether the money has gone to the right places.

Much of the extra finance has gone into salaries with GPs among those to have benefited most. The Prime Minister was forced to enter the debate himself earlier this year when defending the higher salaries, despite reports some family doctors were taking home pounds 250k a year after expenses.

Mr Blair said he was proud doctors and nurses were being well paid for working to improve the NHS.

"When people say why have you spent so much on nurses' and doctors' pay, I say because it's right we make our GPs the best paid in Europe, and boost nurses' pay and conditions, which is why the number of doctors in training is up over 68%, and nurses by 67%," he said.

But the fact remains that GPs' salaries have risen by up to 25 % since new contracts were introduced in 2004, according to figures from the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants.

They suggest the average annual income for GPs could be as much as pounds 120,000 before tax, with some experts believing the contracts are partly responsible for the well-publicised NHS deficits.

The Conservatives believe the new contracts were badly formed and cost the Government more than one third more than they planned in salaries as well as doubling the cost of out-of-hours work. GPs argue they have taken on more responsibilities and their pay had fallen behind that of other equivalent professions. So today the Daily Post asks: Are GPs' salaries now too high?

andykelly@dailypost.co.uk

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Your life in their hands - but doctors' salaries have rocketed' TV doctor Doc Martin, played by Martin Clunes, would have less reason to frown now
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2006
Words:312
Previous Article:The Debate: GPs have delivered huge improvements in care; NO Dr Sean Magennis, Wallasey GP and lecturer at Liverpool University Medical School.
Next Article:The Debate: GPs' claim to professionalism is diminished; YES JOHN ASHTON, recently retired director of public health for the North West.
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