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GPs to pay locum pensions contributions from April

Practices will have to pay locums’ employer pensions contributions under new plans proposed by the Government, with the cost reimbursed through the global sum.

The plans will mean that practices will pay for the contributions from April 2013, which GP leaders say will add to the mounting paperwork burden faced by practices.

The contributions amount to an 8% increase on locum fees for practices, with the additional expense recouped through the global sum. Currently, PCTs pay and administer the employer contributions for locum doctors.

In a letter to GPC chair Laurence Buckman on the contract changes last week, a Department of Health official said that although the NHS Commissioning Board will take on GP contracts, it will not administer locum pension payments.

Richard Armstrong, DH head of primary care, referred to a consultation begun last month, saying: ‘The consultation document includes a proposal to transfer responsibility for payment of locum superannuation contributions to the employing body, bringing this responsibility into line with all other superannuation payment responsibilities.

‘Although the consultation on the NHS Pension Scheme Regulations is separate to the GMS negotiations, it is worth noting that it includes a proposal that the primary care organisation-administered funding that currently pays for locum superannuation will be transferred into GMS global sum funding.’

It has not yet been decided how the funding will be paid through the Global Sum. 

A spokesperson for the NHS Commissioning Board said: ‘The NHS Commissioning Board is in discussion with PCTs regarding existing operational policies relating to the employer pension contributions for GPs carrying out short-term locum work.

‘Final decisions have yet to be made regarding the processes by which contributions will be paid.’

GPC negotiator and GPC Wales chair Dr David Bailey said: ‘It will be a burden on practices that use locums.

‘The DH has not come to us with plans on how they will put this into the global sum. We do not know how it is going to work.

‘This will negatively affect some practices’ cashflow,’ he added. ‘There will be a paperwork burden that will disproportionately fall on smaller practices.’ 

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Sessional GPs, said ‘This will make it more complicated for practices and will create more unknowns. Practices will have to work out how it gets this money from the global sum and how it will be administered.’

Readers' comments (13)

  • Peter Swinyard

    Clearly this will seriously disadvantage two groups - locum doctors and smaller practices. Larger practices can organise themselves to be less reliant on locum by cross covering, but in a 1 or 2 doctor practice, our locum colleagues are an essential part of the workforce, or the principal GPs would never be able to go on study leave or holiday - or indeed sit on a CCG board... Just putting the pension pot into the global sum JUST WON'T DO as it will not get where it is needed.
    We will find some practices just saying to their locums that they will have to reduce their payments by the percentage that they will be charged as employers as there is simply no more money in general practice to add to costs like this. This really is a crass way to treat a substantial part of the medical community - the locum pension payments should remain the responsibility of the NHS CB as the successor organisation to the PCTs. What is happening in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? Are GPs there being penalised for needing locums? Yet another example of the end of the "N" in "NHS"

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  • If practices are receving additional funding to cover the cost there is no reason why this shouldnt be used as intended. As a result there is no reason for locums to charge less unless of course the practice isnt going to use the funding as it is intended.

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  • yes, tha's how I understand the changes. Practices NOR locums will be worse off RXCEPT that practices will have extra admin costs!!

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  • Peter Swinyard

    If the funding went to the practices that need the locums, both anonymous contributors would be correct. However, the Global Sum is for all practices, whether they use locums or not (andd many do not) - so there just cannot be the full amount coming to smaller practices which must use locums.

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  • MPIG practices will not see any rise in the global sum - more savings for HMG

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  • Peter

    Dont use locums then, employ more GP time if thats whats needed. As a business you have to adapt to the ever changing conditions of the sector you choose to do business in .

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  • I am a newly qualified GP and I currently a locum. I have been offered a partnership .With all this going on i'm not sure whether I should accept it. Does anyone have any advice for me?

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  • a simple solution- make all salaried drs partners and locum salaried drs or partners. We shoudl avoid these divisons in the work force

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  • That's a simplistic and unworkable solution.

    I know several ex-partners who are happy being a salaried GP knowing they are protected by the employment law (and BMA model contract) without the additional responsibilities. I know several locums who will not contemplate a salaried position as they earn far more as a locum.

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  • Appointing e gp;s who retire at 65 may be best option as by law over 65 year do not pay ni contribution as far as i know

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