This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Managing the change in locum superannuation funding

Bob Senior explains how to mitigate the costs that will arise from practices’ new responsibility for handling locum pension payments

When the demise of PCTs was announced, many wondered how superannuation for locums would be dealt with from 1 April. One option would have been for the NHS Commissioning Board to take on the role, dealing with superannuation and paying employers’ contributions, but the Department of Health chose to dump this task on practices instead. The amount previously held in PCT budgets for employer superannuation for locums will be added to the global sum and shared between all practices. The GPC suggested that funding should be distributed to practices through increasing global sum equivalent (GSE) payments, and the department has adopted this approach. The combination of the contract uplift of 1.32% and the locum employer superannuation funding both being added to GMS GSE payments, will provide all GMS practices with an increase of 1.47%.

Passing this responsibility to practices has two effects. First there is the financial impact and the practicalities of handling administration and making payments. Initial estimates suggest an average practice might see £1,500 go into their budget scaled for list size.

Second, although the funding will be shared, not all practices use locums to the same degree. Larger practices are often able to use fewer locums because the absence of a single GP is not felt as acutely. Likewise, some practices are better at planning holiday absences. Practices where all the doctors have children at school, and overlaps of holidays are unavoidable, no doubt find it much more difficult to avoid locum costs.

What GPs can do

The advice I am giving my GP clients is that they have four options.

They can:
• absorb the extra 14%
• negotiate a 14% reduction in their sessional rate
• agree a reduction that shares the cost
• be nice to retired GPs who do locums, since there is no 14% to be paid for them.

In areas where locums are hard to find, the first option is probably the only choice.

Note that female partners who are intending to take materinity leave also need to recognise their costs may go up. 

Bob Senior is chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants and head of medical services at RSM Tenon

Readers' comments (11)

  • Locums are paid a higher rate than salaried doctors to take account of the fact that they do not get annual leave or sick leave payments as with their salaried counterparts. This was also the case for Pension payments when I was a locum several years ago until the PCTs paying a contribution to their pension pot and locums benefited. Whilst I would not wish my locum counterparts to lose their benefits, it does bring them in line with other professions where 'self employed' or 'locum status' reflects that they are responsible for all their contributions/ extra 'security' payments. It may also redresses the balance a little that has recently come about where there are fewer GPs available for salaried positions as they prefer the high paid/ no responsibility locum job rather than the committment and responsibility of a salaried post.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

View results 10 results per page20 results per page

Have your say