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GP locum notional pay cap set at £80 per hour, says GPC

NHS England has set its ‘indicative rate’ for locums at £80 per hour, as it presses ahead with plans to force practices to report every time they pay over this rate, the GPC has learned.

The chair of GPC’s sessional GP committee, Dr Zoe Norris, said that practices will be asked to submit a mandatory report on how much they have paid locums over the months of July, August and September 2016 ‘in the coming weeks’.

The mandatory report will ask ‘how many times in this period did you pay more than the indicative rate per hour to a locum?’.

Filling it out is compulsory for practices, having been written into the GP contract against the GPC’s wishes earlier this year.

The new national indicative rate of £80.01 has been calculated by NHS England based on the ‘average salaried GP pay range’ though the precise workings are unclear.

NHS England intends to use this information to map out areas of high locum demand, or areas where locums are particularly needed.

Dr Norris said: ‘The next few weeks will see practices being asked to submit data on how much they have paid locums.’

She said that this is part of practice’s ‘mandatory e-reporting’ so practices are contractually obliged to complete it, but stressed that ’it should have no impact on what rate is agreed between locums and practices.T

She said: ’This is not a cap. It is a data collection exercise. It’s important we are clear about that.’

In a blog on the BMA website, she added: ’You’ll forgive my cynicism about what happens next, and how this information gives us any more detailed information compared to what we already have. Needless to say, we will be at the table with NHSE looking at these figures and results.

’We will be reminding them what a significant part of the workforce sessional doctors are, and that in the current precarious position of the NHS, they would do well to remember this.’

The GMS contract for 2016/17 introduced the requirement to ‘record annually the number of instances where a practice pays a locum doctor more than an indicative maximum rate, as set out by NHS England.’

But GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Pulse at the time that the clause had been ‘imposed unilaterally’ by NHS England and stressed there is no requirement for practices to set rates at the cap.

And at the Pulse Live conference in London this year Dr Nagpaul urged practices not to take any notice of the ‘indicative rate’, saying we need to ‘just challenge it head-on, and not be affected by anything that is not contractual.’

Pulse has asked NHS England for a comment.

Readers' comments (98)

  • I can sympathise with all sides here. As a salaried GP doing 8 sessions, I was taking home £3k a month after indemnity and living in Surrey and thus fairly broke after racking up £40k debt doing a 4-year med course in my 30's.

    I have a regular post now and do occasional locums. I charge £500 a day inc pension. I'm just in the top tax bracket. After pension and MPS I get less than £150 in hand. Not worth doing it. There's only one loser in all this - the patients. Comes back to the old bottom line - make conditions reasonable and pay a reasonable rate.

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  • "Freshly qualified GPs with little experience are asking for ridiculous rates which range from £85 to £105 per hour + pensions + indemnity"

    As a newly qualified solicitor my son's time was billed at £150/hour by his firm. Sounds about right to me for a freshly qulaified GP.

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  • As a salaried who does the occasional locum, I charge per session rather than per hour. I put a cap on the number of patients I will see, and all practices are happy with my sessional rate + pension. I think the hourly rate they are asking for is nonsense. Some locums will see patients every ten minutes flat out whereas I like a few gaps to space my patients out, hence the sessional rather than hourly rate. This gives me a time buffer as every practice operates differently, especially with referrals in different areas, and makes it much safer too as I feel I have more time with the patients having never met any of them before. I rarely pass on problems to other GPs as I feel we can sort complex as well as simple problems most of the time. The only thing I won't do is medical reports. If I'm working more than one session in a place I also fit coils and implants for the practice I'm with (having needing to counsel a patient first). I've had patient compliment letters from working locum shifts so we are a hard working, helpful and useful part of the team. If I divided my sessional rate by hours, it seems I am pretty cheap, I charge absolutely nowhere near the £800 a day someone else claims but perhaps they see almost double the workload I do! I am looking for the right partnership, but am taking my time, locuming gives that valuable insight into how a practice operates and treats its staff so I'm glad I'm doing it.

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  • NHSE has no right to regulate rates for locums. They are neither employers nor contractors for locums. This is a supply and demand issue. If you want to put restrictions on locum pay, why don't you pay their indemnity and also contribute to their holidays.
    It's as if you could give power to a statutory body to regulate fees of plumbers and electricians or any other self employed contractor who runs a similar limited liability companies. Absolute nonsense and just reflects how out of touch with reality NHSE Managers are.

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  • I got my MDDUS subscription renewal the other day. GP cover has increased by just over 17%. This has prompted me to put my rates up by 2%. I still think I'm pretty good value at £450/day for 30 consultations but I don't do visits or others' admin. I provide a degree of continuity of care and certainly don't see just straightforward patients.
    To be honest I'd prefer a salaried post but can't find one with acceptable terms/conditions. Having been a partner for 12 years and imploded I don't want to go back there.
    GPC completely missing the point and ineffectual as ever.
    RCGP and BMA fees total waste of money.

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  • BTW, locum agency rates fluctuate from £90 upwards. Those employing locums directly have to pay a min of £75 and add NHSP contribution which takes it to above the rate set by NHSE.
    For those employing locums directly even if they are Limited companies - they do need to have a Contract in place which takes care of liability for NHSP and prevents a relation of employee- employer coming into force for long term locums.

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  • Setting a rate at £80 as indicative may be a way of capping the help Practices can get to employ locums and to be honest, in this case it would be reasonably set.

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  • NHS England does not realise how important are locums to practices who struggle to recruit doctors. I know quite a few practices who rely on locums to cope with ever increasing patient demand. NHS dictate does not serve any purpose as locum fees are not reimbursed by them

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  • Just paid £300 to have my AGA serviced and a minor repair. Took engineer less than 2 hours. I don't think the £100/hr I charge is excessive for a GP with over 30 yrs experience and I pay my own MPS fees.

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  • Are such potentially restrictive business practices seen in other professions?

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