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Scottish GPs to receive funding to cover increased pension contributions costs

Scottish GPs to receive funding to cover increased pension contributions costs

Scottish GPs will receive Government funding to cover increased costs related to staff pension contributions, following campaigning by the BMA.

The rate of employer pension superannuation contributions which GP practices must pay for all staff and partners in the NHS pension scheme has increased from 20.9% to 22.5% in April.

The BMA’s Scottish GP committee called for the Scottish Government to ensure the costs associated with this increase are ‘fully reimbursed’ to practices, and has today confirmed that GPs will receive funding to cover the costs, and that this will be backdated to April.

Scotland GPC chair Dr Andrew Buist said he was ‘pleased’ with the result, which came ‘after sustained pressure’ from the BMA, and that the committee will ‘continue to press for further action’ on issues ‘of vital importance to GPs’.

In an update to members, he said: ‘We have been pushing the Scottish Government for some time over the issue of rising employer superannuation contributions and I’m pleased to be able to say this has now been resolved.

‘We have now finally received confirmation that general practice will receive funding to cover the additional cost of the superannuation contribution rate increase and it will also be backdated to 1 April 2024.

‘This is of course welcome news, which comes after sustained pressure from BMA Scotland over the issue.

‘But it also must be noted that this is only within our expectations of what the Scottish Government should be doing as it would have been entirely wrong to leave practices to cover these costs.

‘We will of course continue to press for further action on issues which we know are of vital importance to GPs.’

He said that the committee ‘will continue calls’ for ‘direct’ investment into practices so that they can continue to focus on meeting the needs of their patients and ‘recruiting the staff they need’.

He added: ‘Those of us on the ground know the reality of the current medical workforce crisis and challenges which come from not having enough GPs to meet the needs of the people of Scotland.

‘The Scottish Government promised 800 new GPs by 2027 but they are not on target to deliver. We will continue to campaign for an increase in numbers, particularly as we know that with doctors leaving the workforce due to early retirement, burnout or to work elsewhere we now need at least 1000 new GPs for Scotland.’

Pulse has approached the Scottish Government for comment.

Dr Buist also said that the BMA issued a warning over the impact of the pausing of the GP Sustainability Loan Scheme on practices.

Earlier this year, the BMA warned that 30 GP practices in Scotland are at risk of collapse after the Government decided to pause the funding.

Under the scheme, introduced as part the 2018 contract, GPs who own their own premises can apply for long-term interest fee loans worth up to 20% of the practice’s value, which is only repayable when the building is sold or converted to non-medical use.

The Scottish Government told Pulse that it ‘intends’ to resume the scheme but that this depends on budget and ‘will likely not be until midway through the financial year’.

‘We will monitor this and continue to press for it to be restarted urgently,’ Dr Buist added.