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GPs will only get reimbursed for Covid absence cover if staff can’t work remotely

GP practices will only be reimbursed to hire locums and staff to cover for those isolating due to Covid-19 if they are unable to work from home.

NHS England announced last week that under draft plans GP practices are set to receive financial support for Covid-19 staff absence cover as well as any extra staff needed to deliver care homes services.

In March, NHS England had said practices should not expect to be reimbursed from day one when requiring locum cover due to coronavirus. 

Clarifying the current situation in a webinar last Thursday, NHS England director for primary care strategy and NHS contracts Ed Waller said practices should be reimbursed from day one, but that they need to ‘demonstrate’ that the staff member could not work remotely.

This will be from the General Practice Covid Support Fund, which is still being signed off by the Treasury.

Mr Waller said: ‘We are hoping to secure [absence cover] from day one where GPs and practice staff are off sick with Covid-19. 

‘That would allow you to have a locum in to cover someone who was off sick with suspected Covid if they couldn’t work using remote working solutions from home and that was demonstrable.’

He added that ‘in most cases’ practices are expected to redeploy staff to remote working who are either ‘off sick and able to work’ or shielding and that their salary should be ‘supported by the income flowing to the practice’.

In the same webinar, Mr Waller also told GPs that staffing Covid-19 ‘hot hubs’ fall under the GMS contract and should be undertaken with existing practice resources ‘in the first instance’.