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Dr Sajid Mehmood: ‘I think it's reasonable asking locums to accept a fee reduction’

Dr Sajid Mehmood explains why his practice asked locums working at his practice to share the cost of superannuation payments.

Requiring GPs to take responsibility for superannuation payments has put practices in a difficult position. I’ve spoken to other GPs and they were surprised and angry. As well as this, we already know that MPIG is being phased out - and that will hit us like it will hit other practices. The changes to the QOF thresholds are also making our financial situation very difficult.

To try to cover the extra costs of paying locums’ superannuation contribution we decided we would absorb half of the extra and ask locums to absorb the other half. It meant that locums charging £80 an hour would have their payment reduced to about £74 or £75.

We had to do this because we work in a small practice with only 1.5 full-time GPs and so we have to use locums when one of us wants a holiday or goes to a conference or a course. We’ve been struggling year-on-year financially, and we’ve been losing quite a lot. It’s been really hard.

I had discussions with the four or five locums we use and we said it was their choice about whether they wanted to walk out. I can’t say that they were happy, but four of them did accept the deal. The remaining locum does work for a limited company and so we don’t have to pay the superannuation for them anyway.

We were pleased that these discussions went well because sometimes patients like specific locums and we didn’t want to lose any of them. I think it’s reasonable asking locums to accept a reduction - they already make £80 or £90 an hour. As a partner you make about £45 after you have taken care of the business side of the practice.

Dr Sajid Mehmood is a GP in Luton

Readers' comments (2)

  • Locums are still earning sub 100,000 per year, from NHS core contract hours when they are full time. They often earn above this as they will supplement their income with out of hours work etc. yes the hourly rate is £80 however this is for three hours of clinic. Paperwork etc is generally not asked/paid. If we are doing a whole day on a sessional basis then our hourly rate becomes £50. You must also bear in mind that our work is not fixed. If we are sick we are not paid. There is no education time that we attend.

    Should locums reduce their pay? No they should not. I think personally if partner pay on the average GMS/PMS contract came down to below 100,000 for an FTE equivalent then I would at that stage but otherwise I am sorry but I am not reducing my rates personally. It is now up to partnerships to decide if they fill with locums or if they choose to reduce their holiday requirements or take on more staff. Even at the current rate you are making more than me and I think it is unfair of you to ask me to shoulder the burden.

    - anonymous salaried!

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  • Agree with anonymous above. As a locum doing 10 sessions a week, many of them on-call, I earned £86,000 last year. I sympathise with partners being shouldered with this additional burden on top of all the other cuts they have faced, but I do not see why I should pay both employee and employer contributions. Locums have been hit with massive rises in pension contributions and MDU/MPS premiums just as much as partners, and this additional expense, being imposed on some locums by practices, is simply not fair.

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