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A faulty production line

GPs look to debt collectors to chase locum agency struggling to pay out earnings

Exclusive GPs owed thousands have enlisted professional debt collectors after a national locum agency failed to pay out their earnings in time, Pulse can reveal.

Dr Matt Mayer, chair of pressure group GP Survival and a GP in Aylesbury, said Primary Care People owes him an outstanding £5,600 and that he has 'hired debt collectors' to chase the sum.

Doncaster-based locum GP Dr Shamriz Hussain, who told Pulse he was owed £12,500 by the same agency, added that he is also in talks with debt collectors.

Primary Care People told Pulse that the problem of late payments is affecting 'less than 70' locum GPs on their payroll – with no outstanding payments more than three weeks overdue – and was caused by the Government's recent change to tax legislation.

Dr Mayer said: 'I invoiced them on 26 May to be paid on 2 June. That wasn’t paid. I asked them why and they said they didn’t have the cashflow to be able to pay any invoices.

‘They phoned today to say they cannot pay me until July, despite threatening debt recovery. I can’t afford to not be paid £5,600 so I have passed to debt collectors and cancelled all remaining shifts.’

Dr Hussain said: 'I am owed £12,500 thus far and no sign of payment. I’m told it’s an issue with their payment system and will be resolved by 16 June but seems to be having no signs of improvement. I’m in touch with a debt collector.’

Primary Care People chief executive Tawhid Juneja said that cashflow problems had arisen due to the agency taking an 'over-ambitious' approach to the Government's IR35 changes, which came into force from April.

The changes mean that GP practices using locums need to check in each instance whether they are liable for paying tax and NIC at source, which could drive up the overall cost of using locums.

Before, slightly over half of GPs working as locums via Primary Care People had been paid directly by the practice. But in anticipation of the IR35 change, the company began to pay its locums directly as of last December, with practices paying the agency instead.

Mr Juneja told Pulse this had caused the cashflow problems, as well as the difficulty in letting GPs on the payroll know when they would be paid, as the agency did not know when GP practice clients would pay their bills.

He said: 'We have done something proactive, that has had a short-term impact on our ability to pay doctors.

'If all locums are put inside IR35 it means the cost of labour is going to go up, GPs will cost more money, GPs will be taxed more, which means they have to be earning less and to earn the same amount they have to charge a higher rate.'

He said the company made the decision because it 'understands IR35' and 'for the simple reason that it takes the liability away from practices and we wanted GPs to still be able to get paid the usual way through limited companies'.

But he added: 'There was a little bit of over-ambition from us about taking on all these GPs at the same time.'


Readers' comments (6)

  • Rubbish. This affects all Locum agencies. I don't believe this company and a credit search of them shows them to be st high risk rating. Well done to Dr Mayer and others for taking them to task - I hope they recover all their dues and no more Locum sign up with this agency.

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  • I failed to claim over 8k because I didnot remember the dates and did not send invoice on time. Surgeries refused to pay after one year, and one surgery paid after 8 months when I told my manager to use her links. I don't know why us gps blame Jeremy and NHS managers for their dishonesty.

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  • I don't want to mention about abuse of young gps by old retired gps who bribed them with partnership, made them review all the patients, made them do all the QOF then refused partnership. This was in 2011 -2012 or before. Now no body want partnership and surgeries are shutting down because some gps even failed cqc tick boxing. I don't know why we hate Jeremy hunt and NHS managers. It's so disappointing to write this truth but truth has to come out. I will mention racism and bullying somewhere else if pulse write some article on it in future.

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  • Maverick

    General Practice is dead in the water. Get out right now. Can't you see the writing on the wall? If you're newly qualified then leave the NHS ... It's f**ked. If you've committed your life to GP in the NHS because you want a good standard of living, put your kids through school, buy a nice house and a nice car, and have a good pension .... etc etc then leave right now and start building a private practice ...because the NHS is going to screw your nuts to the floorboards. Simple choices ... just apply some common sense... Look after number one... you can bet your bottom dollar your elected MP will not be saving for your pension or paying your indemnity fees....
    Get out while you can and good luck!

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  • Cobblers

    Wot Mav said but nicer.

    Consider your options. Don't be the last (wo)man standing. Discuss it sensibly with partner, friend or a mirror.

    You know it makes sense

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  • What about sending in the debt collectors to NHS England for our QOF money which is outstanding?

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