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GPs are battling against PCT plans to slash reimbursement for maternity leave locum
Southampton City PCT has told GPs it wants to cut the amount paid to practices to cover a partner by 50 per cent.
The trust has argued the maximum £948.33 payment is discretionary and practices should have to meet the cost of maternity leave in the same way as other businesses.
But practices said they would be out of pocket by thousands of pounds if the plans went ahead. GPs added the move would discourage women from seeking work in the area.
Dr John Glasspool, who practises in the city, said he had no doubt other trusts would follow suit if Southampton City PCT was allowed to 'get away with it'.
He added: 'They are trying it on.'
A spokeswoman for the BMA said there was 'no discretion' in the new contract's statement of financial entitlements for PCTs to cut maternity reimbursement.
Part 9 says that subject to certain conditions, the PCT 'must provide financial assistance to the contractor in respect of the cost of engaging that locum'.
A spokeswoman for the PCT said it was awaiting clarification on whether the move was allowed. She added the statement of financial entitlements 'does not indicate that the full amount must be reimbursed'.
Dr Fiona Cornish, spokeswoman for the Medical Women's Federation and a GP in Cambridge, said cutting maternity leave reimbursement could constitute discrimination against female GPs and said it was 'a backward step'.
She added: 'It must be uniform throughout the country. It seems a backward step at a time when everyone is trying to make it easy for men and women to work in the NHS. It's very disappointing in a profession at the forefront of equal opportunities.'
By Ian Cameron