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Independents' Day

Practices paid average of £1,500 for locum superannuation

Practices are set to be paid an average of £1,500 to cover locum superannuation costs from April, regardless of whether they use locums or not.

The BMA has calculated that primary care organisations (PCOs) – who are currently responsible for paying the 14% locum superannuation rate - spent an average of £1,500 annually per practice on paying employers’ contributions.

Under plans set out in the Government’s consultation on the GP contract changes, it intends practices to pay the superannuation themselves. The money for this will be transferred into the global sum.

The BMA is campaigning for the Department of Health to delay its proposals for GPs to pay locum contributions for a year. The DH has not yet clarified whether the payments will be put into the global sum or ‘global sum equivalents’.  

Dr David Bailey, deputy chair of the BMA pensions committee, said the BMA has estimated that PCOs are currently paying around £1,500 per practice for locum superannuation.

Dr Bailey said: ‘If it goes into global sum only, around 40% of practices in England won’t get anything.

‘Even if it goes to global sum equivalent, it clearly won’t go to the same practices that are spending it at the moment because practices that use locums by and large tend to be smaller.’

He added: ‘It won’t be based on use, it will be based on patient numbers.’

Locum groups have warned that the proposals could put practices off employing locums. Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Non-Principals, said: ‘It could turn people off using locums.

‘There are practices who use few locums, there are others who use loads. There is an advantage now in using locums in that the practice does not have to pay superannuation or National Insurance.

‘What practices need to do is work with CCGs to pool together their money so it is used fairly and practices that use locums get the lion’s share.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Our proposals are intended to make sure the payment arrangements are fair and equitable to GP practices.

‘The fact some practices have been allowed to pass on responsibility for superannuation locum payments to PCTs is unfair.

‘In the vast majority of cases, the GP employer is responsible for National Insurance contributions for all staff they employ. All current PCT expenditure on this will be shared equally between practices in the future.’

Readers' comments (5)

  • Peter Swinyard

    I do not know who the DoH spokesperson was but I regret that they sound ill informed (I am being charitable). There is nothing fair nor equitable about reimbursing practices who do not use locums for the cost of locum superann nor indeed of any change to the present system. I suppose that as PCTs fade away it becomes administratively inconvenient for the LATs to take over the payments.
    Well, that's just tough.
    A small practice like mine must use locums to cover the clinical work when, for example, I am away on Family Doctor Association business or indeed on study leave or holiday. Our locum budget does not suddenly rise on 1st April. As an MPIG practice, the likelihood is that we will get nothing from the redistribution. So with no budget rise and no income increase I regret we will behave like any other business and either reduce the number of locum sessions we book or reduce the amount offered by us to locums to take into account the indirect income which they will receive from us.
    It is administratively inconvenient for practices to do the superann payments.
    Comparing the degrees of administrative inconvenience for practices and LATs, I know who should be doing the work.
    Back to you, NHS CB...

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  • Luke Bennett

    If funding gets added to the global sum, 6% will "disappear" as the opt-out cost for out-of-hours is based on the global sum received.

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  • Peter

    Why should the taxpayer fund your business with more locum investment than another? The size of the business you choose to run is upto to you but that has consequences on your costs.

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  • Gary Young

    The only winners will be practices that don't use locums so get a SA gift. We are a large practice and have quite a high locum usage so our choices will be to; suffer another net increase in costs and/or employ fewer locums and/or pay less to those we use. Whichever way you look at it, it's yet more work when it seems like change for change sake just keeps generating more and more work.

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  • This is a serious matter for practices.
    Over years increase in pay has been minimal.
    Work load has increased and pay packet has shrunk.
    Less locum will be used and one way to decrease cost will be to give 15% less per hour in payment
    As PM has said we are all in together

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