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BMA issues correction to advice about GP sickness claims

Practices may not be able to claim full sickness reimbursement if a GP is off more than once within a year, the BMA has said.

Previous claims will be counted towards sickness reimbursement allowances if the same GP is off more than once within a 12-month period.

This is an update to previous guidance, in which the BMA had said each period of absence was treated separately for the purpose of reimbursement.

But it has now issued a correction to this claim, featured in a Pulse Q&A last October, which says ‘any claim for locum cover for sickness in the previous 12 months will be counted toward the total 52-week claim period’.

The scheme allows for the full agreed amount to be paid for the first 26 weeks of leave, after which half of that fee will be paid for the next 26 weeks. The 52-week claims period begins after the initial two-week qualifying period.

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘For example, if a practice claims for 12 weeks of cover, then the GP returns for three months and then goes off sick for 20 weeks: the first 12 week period would be covered to the higher rate, then the first 14 weeks of the second absence would be paid at the higher rate (totalling 26 weeks at the higher rate), and the last six weeks would be paid at the lower rate.’

The sickness reimbursement scheme, which makes practices eligible to recieve funding towards the cost of cover for a sick GP, came into effect in April 2017. It allows practices to claim ‘clearly stated sums’ from NHS England, the maximum being £1,734.18 per week.

In order to recieve this funding, the GP in question must be absent for longer than two weeks and provide a fit note.

Pulse’s Q&A has been updated to reflect the BMA’s correction.