The BMA has advised that GP practices should pay staff enhanced rates for working on Monday during the bank holiday announced for the Queen’s state funeral.
Previously, NHS England had said that GP practices are ‘contractually able to close’ for the bank holiday but that issues of extra pay or time off in lieu were up to individual employers.
The BMA yesterday published a set of ‘working recommendations for doctors’ during the coming public holiday, which reiterated NHS England guidance that ‘primary care professionals and their teams will want to pay their respects on this day wherever possible’.
It said: ‘There is no statutory entitlement for time off on such bank holidays, so the arrangements are subject to local decision-making by employers.’
The guidance added that the additional bank holiday will ‘be treated the same as any other public holiday and will constitute premium time, attracting enhanced rates for all staff subject to medical contracts who are required to work on Monday 19 September’.
The BMA guidance also called for a change in rules so that those who work on a ‘less-than-full-time’ basis do not need to use their annual leave allowance to take the public holiday off.
It said: ‘Given that the purpose of this bank holiday is to allow people in the UK to pay their respects to the Queen, we do not think it is reasonable that they should be expected to use their annual leave allowance to supplement them taking the full day.
‘However, NHS Employers has indicated that where someone chooses to take a day of leave on a bank holiday which falls on a day they would normally work, they must take a day out of their combined annual leave allocation, which would be increased pro rata to recognise the additional bank holiday.’
Pulse revealed this week that NHS England will not provide any additional funding for GP practices that choose to remain open next Monday.
Announcing that GP practices are ‘contractually able to close’ on Monday if they choose to, NHS England said that Covid booster jabs in care homes should still go ahead.
GPs had reacted with anxiety to the announcement of a last-minute bank holiday, with concerns over what to do about pre-booked appointments, and how to cope with the backlog later in the week if they did close.
Some indicated a wish to remain open but were concerned staff would struggle with childcare, and would expect to be paid extra or have time off in lieu.
Meanwhile, GPs in Scotland have been told that staff required to work on the bank holiday ‘will be eligible for the rates of pay and all other terms and conditions applicable on a designated Public Holiday’.
The Scottish Government said it would ‘work with NHS Directors of Finance to understand the cost implications of this additional bank holiday’.
It comes as NHS England has told GPs there may be an ‘increase’ in patients seeking GP appointments following the Queen’s death, as well as increased levels of DNAs and cancellations.
Doctor leaders around the UK paid tribute to the Queen following her death on Thursday last week.