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I want to use my first blog as Chair of the Scottish General Practitioners Committee to update you on an issue that I know is causing a great deal of concern for GPs across Scotland.
We have had plenty of you getting in touch to express concern at the proposed increase in employer pensions contributions.
For anyone who might not be aware, the Scottish Public Pension Agency is currently consulting on proposals to increase the employer contribution by 6% from 1 April 2019.
As soon as we heard of this issue at SGPC, it was clear that this substantial increase in costs could be hugely damaging for GP practices across Scotland. Our priority in negotiating the new GP contract with the Scottish Government has always been to improve the sustainability of practices and a substantial increase in costs to practice would clearly run counter to this.
As a result, resolving the issue to ensure that there is no impact on GP income, has been at the top of our priorities since it emerged.
We have been pursuing this in three ways. First, I have been speaking directly with Scottish Government primary care officials to be absolutely clear that this is unacceptable, and GPs being forced to meet these extra costs could have an extremely damaging effect on recruitment and retention – and the sustainability of practices.
Added to that I have personally written to the Cabinet Secretary outlining our concern that the consultation contains no commentary on how the costs would be met and that this has caused considerable distress for our GP members. I also made the Cabinet Secretary aware that many GPs have contacted us concerned that these changes would destabilise their practice, and that others have indicated they were considering leaving the profession.
Finally, we have prepared and will be submitting our response for the consultation, combining all these points and making our case robustly.
The positive news is that we understand from discussions with Scottish Government officials that there is an expectation that these additional costs will be met by new funding from the Treasury.
While this is positive, it is at this stage still far from providing the concrete reassurance we need.
That’s why we will continue to vigorously argue that it is essential the overall additional Treasury funding – providing it is confirmed – covers these additional costs to practices in full and on an ongoing basis.
We are still awaiting a final response and confirmation on these points. While I am optimistic of a positive solution at this stage, I want to reassure you that we will not let up on this issue until we reach that point.
I will keep you up to date as and when this situation develops – so please keep checking social media, this blog and the enewsletters you receive from the BMA to stay in touch.
It still leaves locum doctors out in the cold. Those who choose to work for health boards as "employed" status within IR35 are still deemed to be "self-employed " when it comes to tax, National insurance and pensions. That means we pay both our own and our employers contributions. I don't see any protection for these doctors in what is being said. There is a danger that an already invidious and unfair situation is made even more punitive to the extent that locum doctors stop working for Health Boards with disastrous results for the public. Simon Willetts.
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...and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you too, Scottish Government! It's nice to be appreciated...
With > 30% of GPs over 50 this needs to be sorted so that older GPs are not being stung ( may of whom already are being penalised through annual allowance changes) or it will ony exacerbate the retention problem
That is good to hear. I think locums may have a lot of problems as one has already commented-something I hadn't thought of. As I noted in my response, it seems the government gives with one hand and takes away with the other! Just when I thought we were going to get a bit of a pay rise it looks as though we will be worse of yet again! Please keep up the pressure on the government. I think there is a lot of anger ove rthis in the profession. I am certainly going to take my pension next year to mitigate my personal expense.
In view of the way the pension system works the more staff retire the bigger the pension expense and the greater amount that will need to feed into the pot . This really is not giving any incentive to remain in General Practice .... When can I retire ?? Will there be any of us left to look after the population ? On entering General practice the employer contribution was 6 % and the employee 6% , We will be approaching 20.6 % and 14.9 % a total 35.5 % for a GP , and new tax changes on receiving a pension , I hope any government support will be fully funded, this I doubt given the progress with the new Contract in rural areas .