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New GPs eligible for back payments of seniority pay

GPs could receive thousands of pounds of extra seniority pay following revised figures for 2015/16, published by NHS Digital.

Interim figures decreased the threshold for qualifying for payments, meaning that GPs who had a superannuable income between £30,597 and £31,667 during 2015/16 are now eligible, having previously been ineligible. 

To qualify for seniority pay, GPs must have served in the NHS for eight years and earn over a certain amount.

The scheme, which is being phased out, closed for new applications on 1 April 2014. Payments will cease altogether on 31 March 2020, but GPs will continue to receive them until then. 

The amount of seniority pay a GP receives depends on the number of years they have served in the NHS. For eight years’ service by 2015/16, the full seniority payment was £667. This figure increased per year of service, up to £12,315 for 70 years’ service and above.

The average seniority payment for GPs in England was £5,033 in 2015/16.

Deborah Wood, vice chair of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, said this will benefit GPs earning more money too. 

She said: ‘There will be some GPs who earned between £61,193 and £63,334 who should be entitled to an additional seniority payment uplifting them from the 60% abated figure to their full entitlement.’

She added: ‘And for GPs who earned between £30,597 and £31,667 they should receive an additional payment being their 60% abated seniority.’

Funds previously used for seniority payments have been transferred to the global sum, with 44p per patient coming from seniority pay reinvestment.

Some GPs previously called for the reintroduction of seniority payments to incentivise being a partner.

Earlier this month, research revealed that doctors were using a ‘hokey cokey’ approach to avoid huge NHS pension tax bills.

How seniority pay is calculated

There is an annual marker to measure who is eligible for the payment – which was initially put at £95,001 for 2015/16, but this month this figure was revised to £91,790. Those earning above one third of this figure – £30,597 – were eligible for seniority pay in 2015/16.

The payments are tiered, with those earning between one and two thirds of the marker eligible for 60% of the seniority payment. Those earning above two thirds of the £91,790 figure would have been eligible for the full seniority payment.

This means GPs in England who earned between £61,193 and £63,334 in 2015/16 are eligible for extra payments, as well as those who earned between £30,597 and £31,667 during the period.