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GPs to pay locum pensions contributions from April

Practices will have to pay locums’ employer pensions contributions under new plans proposed by the Government, with the cost reimbursed through the global sum.

The plans will mean that practices will pay for the contributions from April 2013, which GP leaders say will add to the mounting paperwork burden faced by practices.

The contributions amount to an 8% increase on locum fees for practices, with the additional expense recouped through the global sum. Currently, PCTs pay and administer the employer contributions for locum doctors.

In a letter to GPC chair Laurence Buckman on the contract changes last week, a Department of Health official said that although the NHS Commissioning Board will take on GP contracts, it will not administer locum pension payments.

Richard Armstrong, DH head of primary care, referred to a consultation begun last month, saying: ‘The consultation document includes a proposal to transfer responsibility for payment of locum superannuation contributions to the employing body, bringing this responsibility into line with all other superannuation payment responsibilities.

‘Although the consultation on the NHS Pension Scheme Regulations is separate to the GMS negotiations, it is worth noting that it includes a proposal that the primary care organisation-administered funding that currently pays for locum superannuation will be transferred into GMS global sum funding.’

It has not yet been decided how the funding will be paid through the Global Sum. 

A spokesperson for the NHS Commissioning Board said: ‘The NHS Commissioning Board is in discussion with PCTs regarding existing operational policies relating to the employer pension contributions for GPs carrying out short-term locum work.

‘Final decisions have yet to be made regarding the processes by which contributions will be paid.’

GPC negotiator and GPC Wales chair Dr David Bailey said: ‘It will be a burden on practices that use locums.

‘The DH has not come to us with plans on how they will put this into the global sum. We do not know how it is going to work.

‘This will negatively affect some practices’ cashflow,’ he added. ‘There will be a paperwork burden that will disproportionately fall on smaller practices.’ 

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Sessional GPs, said ‘This will make it more complicated for practices and will create more unknowns. Practices will have to work out how it gets this money from the global sum and how it will be administered.’