COVID-19: your terms and conditions

Your terms and conditions: sessional GPs

Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
Topics: COVID 19, Contracts

We've compiled answers to some of the questions you might have as GPs about the impact of COVID-19 on your contract terms and conditions.

These questions and answers will be under constant review and added to as the situation evolves.


What happens if I am sick or need to self-isolate?

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.


What about doctors working in OOH (out of hours)?

This depends upon your individual circumstances. If you are salaried then check your contract as there is no national set of terms and conditions in OOH. If you are self-employed then see the next question.


I’m self-employed, what sickness cover do I have?

We are rapidly 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.


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What if I am being asked to perform tasks outside of my job plan?

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.

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


What if I am being asked to work additional sessions?

We will all need to exercise some flexibility to respond to COVID-19 as there are likely to be rapid changes and variable staffing capacity.

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


I'm a locum, should I change or cancel bookings?

We would suggest that you use the BMA locum terms and conditions 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.


Am I indemnified for any changes?

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.

We will update you with any more information when it is available. 


I am contracted through the GP retention scheme – how am I affected?

GPs employed under the GP retention scheme are usually not permitted to work more than four sessions per week. However, this restriction has been temporarily lifted until further notice. Any decision to increase sessions is entirely voluntary and if you do not wish to change your sessions you do not need to take any action.

All retained GPs must continue to have access to their existing level of support including in supervision during this period and your needs must be reviewed regularly.

If you are on the scheme and wish to increase your sessions, you should notify your CCG via the local HEE scheme lead. You and your employing practice will continue to receive the financial support in line with their existing agreement.

Any additional sessions you choose to undertake during this temporary period will not attract additional scheme payments.

If you are due for your scheme annual review before the end of September 2020 you may now seek (through your HEE lead) to defer the review until a later date.

If you are approaching the end of the scheme (eg doctors in their final three months of the scheme) then you can ask for an extension until the end of September 2020.


Will my CPD time be affected?

A clinical session will have greater value in the coming months and therefore, it may be appropriate for non-essential CPD sessions to be cancelled.

We would expect a discussion between the practice and you to agree to deviate from the contract but only to respond to the current priority.

Prior agreement over how this time will be recompensed should be clearly set out in advance – this could include taking the time back at a later date or being remunerated at an agreed rate.

Need help? For 24/7 emergency COVID advice please call us. For all other non-emergency enquiries normal opening times apply.