NHS England has set its ‘indicative rate’ for locums at £80 per hour, as it presses ahead with plans to force practices to report every time they pay over this rate, the GPC has learned.
The chair of GPC’s sessional GP committee, Dr Zoe Norris, said that practices will be asked to submit a mandatory report on how much they have paid locums over the months of July, August and September 2016 ‘in the coming weeks’.
The mandatory report will ask ‘how many times in this period did you pay more than the indicative rate per hour to a locum?’.
Filling it out is compulsory for practices, having been written into the GP contract against the GPC’s wishes earlier this year.
The new national indicative rate of £80.01 has been calculated by NHS England based on the ‘average salaried GP pay range’ though the precise workings are unclear.
NHS England intends to use this information to map out areas of high locum demand, or areas where locums are particularly needed.
Dr Norris said: ‘The next few weeks will see practices being asked to submit data on how much they have paid locums.’
She said that this is part of practice’s ‘mandatory e-reporting’ so practices are contractually obliged to complete it, but stressed that ’it should have no impact on what rate is agreed between locums and practices.T
She said: ’This is not a cap. It is a data collection exercise. It’s important we are clear about that.’
In a blog on the BMA website, she added: ’You’ll forgive my cynicism about what happens next, and how this information gives us any more detailed information compared to what we already have. Needless to say, we will be at the table with NHSE looking at these figures and results.
’We will be reminding them what a significant part of the workforce sessional doctors are, and that in the current precarious position of the NHS, they would do well to remember this.’
The GMS contract for 2016/17 introduced the requirement to ‘record annually the number of instances where a practice pays a locum doctor more than an indicative maximum rate, as set out by NHS England.’
But GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul told Pulse at the time that the clause had been ‘imposed unilaterally’ by NHS England and stressed there is no requirement for practices to set rates at the cap.
And at the Pulse Live conference in London this year Dr Nagpaul urged practices not to take any notice of the ‘indicative rate’, saying we need to ‘just challenge it head-on, and not be affected by anything that is not contractual.’
Pulse has asked NHS England for a comment.