Workload and overtime guidance for salaried GPs

Addressing workload and overtime

Location: UK
Audience: GPs
Updated: Wednesday 11 October 2023
Topics: Job planning, Working hours

Overtime should not become a regular occurrence. If you find yourself consistently working beyond your contracted hours, discuss it with your employer so changes can be made to your job plan or prioritisation exercises can be agreed. This is to reduce your workload and provide clarity around expectations for your working day.

The purpose of job plans

Job plans enable GPs to determine their hours per day and takes account of clinical time, administrative work, specialist roles, team meetings, CPD and breaks. A job plan can specify exactly what is expected within the individual’s job role including the ratio of clinical work to administrative work (deemed to be 3:1). Detailed guidance is contained in the Salaried GP handbook.

The work you are expected to do should be able to be completed within the number of sessions you are employed to work and the job plan should reflect this.

For example, your contracted time should include all direct clinical care (consulting) and indirect clinical care (managing correspondence, lab results, prescriptions and reports) as well as meetings.  If your contracted hours do not enable you to deliver all the activities expected of you (either explicitly in your job plan or through daily workload allocation) then adjustments should be made to enable to you to work within your contracted hours, or a new mutually agreeable contract and job plan should be agreed.

The European Union of General Practitioners and GPC England have recommended a safe level of patient contacts per day in order for a GP to deliver safe care at not more than 25 contacts per day.

GPC England guidance further qualifies that this limit may need to be lower still if the caseload is predominantly “complex, long term or mental health conditions”.

Job plans and the model contract

The model contract requires a job plan to be agreed and appended to the contract. The job plan should be developed collaboratively between the employer and salaried GP. It should be produced and agreed as soon as possible, and ideally before starting a salaried role. However, you do not need a job plan in place in order to claim remuneration or TOIL for overtime worked.

Reviewing job plans

The job plan should be reviewed annually or when there are any significant changes proposed to the work pattern by either party. Any changes should be made only by mutual agreement. You can use the BMA's GP diary to help with this.

Practices or partners should organise annual job plan reviews. If this does not take place, salaried GPs are entitled to request a job plan review annually or, if relevant, an interim job plan review. 

Interim job plans

An interim job plan review may be necessary if you are consistently finding yourself undertaking unpaid overtime. The interim job plan review could be used to introduce short-term measures to reduce your workload/duties and enable you to keep to their contracted hours. A follow-up meeting or the annual job plan review should be used to assess the effectiveness of the short-term measures.