COVID-19 terms and conditions: sessional GPs

Guidance on changes to your working patterns and contractual issues during the pandemic, such as annual leave, indemnity and working outside of your job plan.

Location: UK
Audience: GPs
Updated: Friday 20 November 2020
COVID virus illustration

Model terms for locum GPs providing temporary services

We have produced model terms of engagement for GPs providing temporary COVID-19 services.

They can be used for the temporary engagement of a GP by a GP practice or other primary care provider for COVID-19 services and are recommended by the BMA as good practice.

Download the explanatory notes for full guidance on how to use them.

How to use the model terms

The model terms are intended to provide practices with the ability to flexibly employ additional GPs to deal with the demands of responding to COVID-19.

In particular, it is aimed at GPs who are exclusively engaged as a locum and have no underlying type 2 role (for example a salaried role). It provides access to employment benefits such as maintaining continuous coverage of death in service benefits while supporting COVID-19 services, and access to the employer’s occupational sick pay and annual leave entitlements.

The document is a general template that will need to be adapted for specific circumstances. The law relating to employment status and data protection will always be applied on a case by case basis. It is therefore recommended that members seek legal advice on their individual situation before using it. It is also important that employing organisations and practitioners adhere to the terms in practice.

Changing or cancelling regular bookings

We would suggest that you use the BMA locum terms and conditions, or the model terms above when providing temporary COVID-19 services, to set out expected duties with the practice in advance.

It is likely that there will be a significant change to working arrangements and so you may need to revisit with practices what the expectation is. Your revised terms of working need to reflect your competence and abilities to ensure you can continue to deliver sessions in a suitable way. This may change at fairly short notice and we would ask locums and practices to exercise reasonable flexibility.



Any GP who has current professional protection via their MDO (medical defence organisation) will continue to be covered fully. You have to do nothing more than is already in place.

The Clinical Negligence Scheme for General Practice covers doctors working in England for NHS work. 

The General Practice Medical Indemnity Scheme covers all Welsh NHS work. Freelance locum GPs must sign up for the for the NHS Wales All Wales Locum Register in order to receive coverage for any NHS work performed.


Sick leave and self-isolation

Self-isolation is counted as special leave and if you are unwell it is to be treated as sick leave. The terms are essentially the same for both and you are entitled to be paid for this according to the model contract.

Doctors working out of hours 

Sickness pay will depend upon your individual circumstances. If you are salaried then check your contract as there is no national set of terms and conditions in OOH.

Self-employed doctors

We are negotiating with governments to find a solution for locum GPs to protect them with sick pay and death in service benefits. As soon as this is agreed we will communicate with you.

Any staff off sick or self-isolating before this agreement can access statutory sick pay.


Working outside of your job plan or additional sessions

During a period of emergency we are all going to be placed under strain professionally and it is likely that normal working practices will have to be flexed.

Every situation will be different and so we can’t give specific guidance here, however we would suggest that a degree of flexibility for both salaried GPs and the practice should be exercised.

You should be paid for the work you do, and you should have adequate rest between sessions to enable you to work safely.

If you feel you are being asked to do anything inappropriate and need support then get in touch.