Practices are set to be paid an average of £1,500 to cover locum superannuation costs from April, regardless of whether they use locums or not.
The BMA has calculated that primary care organisations (PCOs) – who are currently responsible for paying the 14% locum superannuation rate – spent an average of £1,500 annually per practice on paying employers’ contributions.
Under plans set out in the Government’s consultation on the GP contract changes, it intends practices to pay the superannuation themselves. The money for this will be transferred into the global sum.
The BMA is campaigning for the Department of Health to delay its proposals for GPs to pay locum contributions for a year. The DH has not yet clarified whether the payments will be put into the global sum or ‘global sum equivalents’.
Dr David Bailey, deputy chair of the BMA pensions committee, said the BMA has estimated that PCOs are currently paying around £1,500 per practice for locum superannuation.
Dr Bailey said: ‘If it goes into global sum only, around 40% of practices in England won’t get anything.
‘Even if it goes to global sum equivalent, it clearly won’t go to the same practices that are spending it at the moment because practices that use locums by and large tend to be smaller.’
He added: ‘It won’t be based on use, it will be based on patient numbers.’
Locum groups have warned that the proposals could put practices off employing locums. Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Non-Principals, said: ‘It could turn people off using locums.
‘There are practices who use few locums, there are others who use loads. There is an advantage now in using locums in that the practice does not have to pay superannuation or National Insurance.
‘What practices need to do is work with CCGs to pool together their money so it is used fairly and practices that use locums get the lion’s share.’
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Our proposals are intended to make sure the payment arrangements are fair and equitable to GP practices.
‘The fact some practices have been allowed to pass on responsibility for superannuation locum payments to PCTs is unfair.
‘In the vast majority of cases, the GP employer is responsible for National Insurance contributions for all staff they employ. All current PCT expenditure on this will be shared equally between practices in the future.’