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Locum costs may prevent GPs taking on commissioning, says BMA

Locum superannuation costs must be fully covered or it will be ‘impossible’ for GPs to take on CCG responsibilities, the BMA has said.

In its response to the Government’s consultation on draft regulations for the NHS Pension Scheme reforms published today, it said that in the current climate it would be unreasonable to expect practices to bear any additional costs to facilitate the engagement with CCGs.

The Government has proposed to give GP practices responsibility for locum superannuation payments from April this year, by moving additional funding into the global sum.

But the BMA has warned that this way of allocating payments is unfair as 40% of practices will not benefit from it, that because it is based on patient list numbers, rather than need for locums.

Now the BMA says GPs will not be able to do CCG work unless locum costs are fully covered and that its own analysis of superannuation costs suggested the Government has probably underestimated the total sum paid to locums by up to £10m because of the difficulty to calculate costs for locums used by PMS practices.

It says: ‘The BMA is concerned that the proposals have been rushed, with little regard shown for the security of pension contributions of locum doctors.

‘We also feel that it will be impossible for practices to take on locums whilst taking on additional CCG responsibilities if the cost of the locum is not fully covered; clearly in the current climate it would be unreasonable to expect practices to bear any of the risk of increasing costs to facilitate engagement.’

The BMA also reiterated calls to delay implementation of moving superannuations for one year, and for the payments to go into the global sum equivalent, rather than the global sum.

It also called for locums to be given the same rights to sickness benefit and death in service benefit as Type 2 practitioners (locums who are regularly at the same practice). It welcomed the consultation proposal to pay GPs for CCG work, but said it wants further clarity into whether they will also get paid for advising local authorities or in educational roles.

The Public Sector Pensions Bill, published in September 2012, has passed through the House of Commons but needs to pass through the House of Lords before it can can attain royal assent.