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Dr Sajid Mehmood: ‘I think it’s reasonable asking locums to accept a fee reduction’

Requiring GPs to take responsibility for superannuation payments has put practices in a difficult position. I’ve spoken to other GPs and they were surprised and angry. As well as this, we already know that MPIG is being phased out - and that will hit us like it will hit other practices. The changes to the QOF thresholds are also making our financial situation very difficult.

To try to cover the extra costs of paying locums’ superannuation contribution we decided we would absorb half of the extra and ask locums to absorb the other half. It meant that locums charging £80 an hour would have their payment reduced to about £74 or £75.

We had to do this because we work in a small practice with only 1.5 full-time GPs and so we have to use locums when one of us wants a holiday or goes to a conference or a course. We’ve been struggling year-on-year financially, and we’ve been losing quite a lot. It’s been really hard.

I had discussions with the four or five locums we use and we said it was their choice about whether they wanted to walk out. I can’t say that they were happy, but four of them did accept the deal. The remaining locum does work for a limited company and so we don’t have to pay the superannuation for them anyway.

We were pleased that these discussions went well because sometimes patients like specific locums and we didn’t want to lose any of them. I think it’s reasonable asking locums to accept a reduction - they already make £80 or £90 an hour. As a partner you make about £45 after you have taken care of the business side of the practice.

Dr Sajid Mehmood is a GP in Luton