Exclusive: Local area teams are unable to reimburse PMS practices for locum superannuation pending a central NHS England review of what payments GPs are due, in a delay branded ‘inexplicable’ by the GPC.
Pulse has learnt that NHS England is reviewing ‘historic expenditure’ on PMS locum superannuation payments and that the issue will be considered as part of the wider review of whether PMS is providing value for money.
GP practices were handed the burden of paying locums’ 14% pension contributions from the now-defunct PCTs from April, but the GPC says NHS England has told area teams not to pass on the uplift in global sum equivalent payments yet.
A spokesperson from NHS England said it was reviewing the situation nationally before deciding what funding should transfer to PMS practice by LATs.
The GPC said it was unacceptable that PMS practices have not received employer superannuation funding similar to GMS practices.
A spokesperson for NHS England told Pulse: ‘NHS England is reviewing historic expenditure on PMS locum superannuation payments before deciding what funding should transfer into PMS baselines to reflect the change in responsibility for these payments.’
‘NHS England will be considering the issue of locum superannuation payments within the context of the wider review of investment into PMS practices which is being currently developed with area teams.
The GPC urged NHS England to ensure that PMS practices receive an uplift to help cover the costs of locum employers’ superannuation in line with GMS practices.
GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey said: ‘We are insisting that this is paid to PMS practices in the same way as to GMS practices and calling on them to do this urgently to clear up this unhelpful and unacceptable uncertainty.’
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a PMS-funded GP in London and GPC negotiator, said his practice had not been paid for locum superannuation yet and this was disadvantaging locums working in PMS practices.
He said: ‘We are frustrated at this delay, which we find inexplicable. NHS England claims there are technical difficulties in calculating the amount of employer superannuation paid on behalf of PMS practices by PCTs which is hard to understand since PCTs paid locum superannuation. for PMS exactly the same as they did for GMS.’
‘It is unacceptable and inequitable for PMS practices not to have received employer superannuation funding similar to GMS practices. PMS practices are therefore disadvantaged in employing locums and we are concerned this may adversely impact on employment opportunities and rates of pay fo locums in PMS practices, The Government needs to resolve this urgently in the interests of locums and PMS practices.’
Londonwide LMCs chief executive Dr Michelle Drage said: ‘The difficulty that this causes in terms of cash flow means difficulty in paying staff and therefore reduces practices’ ability to deliver the services that they would like to deliver. Practices are working so close to the margin that any changes in circumstances that affect the practice resources have an almost immediate impact.’
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Sessional GPs, said the delays were a ‘big concern’, but urged practices to continue to pay contributions to locums anyway.
He said: ‘It is small-minded by the Government to do this and it would be even more small-minded of GPs who should know better.’
‘The cost to a practices paying pension contributions is comparatively small, as it is a distributed cost throughout the practice, compared to what it means for the individual locum.’
Pulse reported earlier this week that locums have been forced to slash fees by an average 8% due to pensions changes.