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Negotiators move to quell pension fears

GP negotiators have acted to stem mounting concern over how pensions for GPs and their staff will be funded

under the new contract.

Practices have grown increasingly confused after many could not see whether extra money to pay for the increase in employers' superannuation contributions was in their first monthly payments.

Their worries were heightened after accountants warned GPs might have to top up the employers' contribution for their own pensions if their practice profits climb this year.

Mike Gilbert, medical partner with accountants RMT, said he knew of at least one PCT that had refused to pay any more in employers' contributions for any practice whose profits rose more than expected.

But in a detailed explanation of the new pension arrangements, negotiators said GPs would not have to fork out more for their own pensions.

They added the Government had committed to covering the cost of the rise in GPs' pensions as a result of any extra income from the GMS contract.

GPC deputy-chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said negotiations with the Department of Health over a 'balancing payment' for practices to cover any extra pension costs when their profits rose were


'There will be additional payments made,' he said. 'The exact mechanism is still being negotiated and PCTs are whispering in the wind as they don't know what the arrangements will be.

'I'm frustrated at the delays getting finalised and the first to accept that when there's a vacuum rumours fly around, but PCTs should not make such announcements.'

Dr Andrew Seymour, vice-chair of Gloucestershire LMC, said there was a huge amount of confusion over superannuation and most GPs were


'This is part and parcel of what's been happening. Our payments for last month were not clear,' he said.

'We don't think we had superannuation deducted so probably got paid more than we ought and it will be clawed back.'

Balancing payments are unlikely to be made until after the end of the financial year as accountants will not be able to certify profits until then.

The pensions picture

The changes

lThe NHS has taken over responsibility for making superannuation contributions that were previously paid by the Treasury

lThis increases the employers' contribution for GPs' and staff pensions from 7 to 14 per cent

lGlobal sums have therefore been increased by £4 to £54 per weighted patient – the £4 is made up of an extra £2.54 for GPs and £1.46 for their staff

lMPIG practices will see their correction factor increased 'in parallel'

lActual pension contributions are based on actual practice profit at the end of the year – as a result, more of GPs' income is superannuable

The issue

lPractice profits are expected to rise under nGMS, so GPs need to be given an additional payment each month so they can pay the extra contributions for themselves and their staff

lHow much this will be and how it will be paid is under negotiation between the GPC and the Department of Health

lIt will be based on an estimate of likely profit generation and expenses from new GMS and PMS income

lIt could come through the global sum, or via other streams such as quality payments

lA 'balancing payment' will be made at the end of the year when actual profits are calculated by GPs' accountants

The administration

lWhile any superannuation payment belongs to the practice, PCOs will administer it to avoid practice bureaucracy

lPCOs will deduct contributions from global sums and make payments to the NHS Pensions Agency

lAmount deducted is open to negotiation – practices

can ask for more to be deducted so final balancing payment is lower

By Ian Cameron

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