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I’m only going to focus on three things this month; two are mostly related to locums so I apologise in advance to salaried colleagues for that on this occasion.
Secondly, Capita and pensions.
Lastly, death in service benefits.
The funding from the General Practice Forward View that promises to pay for any increases in indemnity kicks in from April this year, and salaried and locum GPs need to know how to access this. NHSE have insisted that the money must go directly to practices as set out in the GP Indemnity Review (a two year scheme that will cover average annual increases for scheduled care linked to unweighted patient population), and not to individual GPs. We will be publishing guidance for both sessional doctors and practices, to allow them to work out how much money should be received by salaried GPs in practices and how much they can expect to see added on to their locum costs to recoup this funding.
Those salaried doctors who have some or part of their indemnity funded already will be slightly more complicated, but we will try to make the advice – both from ourselves and from the wider GPC – as straightforward as possible. I am aware that many locums are already booking work after April, and need to advise practices on the expected increase. We will get this out to you as soon as possible. NHS England will also be issuing a policy statement to ensure that, where appropriate, it is absolutely clear that they expect practices to pass on the funding being made available.
Capita and pensions – I have had a lot of queries about what is happening with pension contributions for those sessional doctors who send in their cheques with locum A&B pension forms since Capita took over from local offices. I’ve also seen a few posts on social media about this.
If you have been affected by cheques being lost, not being cashed, being told you have missed the 10-week deadline for pension payments or any other issues, then we need to know. Not because we are unaware of what’s going on – many of the members of the subcommittee are also caught up in this. But because the more examples of individuals we have, the stronger the arguments we can make to NHSE and Capita.
We have now managed to get meetings arranged specifically to look at the problems affecting sessional doctors. Capita are involved with huge amounts of behind-the-scenes work that general practice needs to function – everything from delivering prescription pads to patient notes. Trying to make sure that sessional doctors’ pension contributions are not lost in the long list of disasters is our job and we are making progress.
But all ammunition helps. If you or a colleague are having problems, please email us.
We are asking for:
We are also seeking clarification over the provision of the NHS pensions annual benefits statements – these can be requested by self-employed GPs on an annual basis. As well as ensuring all your pension contributions have reached the right place, it also means you can make sure you are at the correct tier in terms of the amount you are paying in pension contributions. You probably know this varies depending on your income.
We don’t think this system is working well, with no receipts for payments being issued, and problems getting a standard annual statement even for those who are asking repeatedly. We also want to know what happens if you haven’t ever requested a statement but have been paying contributions in. Don’t panic if you have never heard of it – I hadn’t either so you’re in good company!
Death in service benefits for locums – you may have been aware of some high-profile cases where locum GPs have died and their families have not been awarded the death in service benefits that were expected by the NHS pensions agency. This has been an issue for a long time, and centres around the fact that because locum doctors are not always working on a fixed or regular contract, they may not be entitled to the same degree of death in service benefit as employed GPs.
We want to get an answer to this as we think locums should have the same entitlement. With that in mind, we are looking for a locum GP who has a short term (under six months) agreement with a practice. This could be to cover maternity leave or a sabbatical, for example. You must be paying into the NHS pension scheme. If you fit the bill and would like to get in touch, please do. Once we have a suitable test case we can try and get this sorted once and for all.
And I lied, actually there’s an extra bit to this blog, and that is to say how furious I was at the comments from Theresa May this weekend, as I’m sure you all were. Myself and members of the sessional subcommittee have had a lot of feedback on social media and via e-mail confirming how demoralising and frustrating you are all finding this political barrage.
We will not accept denigration of GPs by the prime minister or any other politician. I said when I spoke to the LMC secretaries conference that sessional GPs are often underestimated. Politicians forget we make up almost half of the workforce, and this continued attack on us in a time of severe instability in the NHS is a very unwise move.
Zoe Norris is chair of the sessional GP committee.
Follow her @dr_zo
Brilliant article. I'm so furious with Capita over pensions. We out so much money in and yet no statements or reciepts. No one else would accept this. I feel like my money gets deducted and disappears to some alien planet. Who knows whether I will even reap the benefits.
Capita's handling of my locum pension contributions has been disgraceful- I am currently on holiday so can't be bothered going through my emails to detail all the pain, but there was no communication over the transfer of responsibility, forms sent at the transition time were lost, and resolving my overpayment for the 15/16 year took weeks and weeks. When I phoned them because I hadn't had a substantive response to my emails, I was told I just had to wait on an email, and no, they couldn't give any timescale on a response. When they did respond, and I sent all my forms from last year in reply, I got a reply from someone else in their pensions office asking why I had sent all the forms! (This was abundantly clear from the email thread). I have been paying electronically for some time due to multiple cheques being lost. I increasingly wonder about abandoning my NHS pension, the process is managed so badly.
I had problem that two years of pension contributions had not been sent to the Pension Agency and therefore my pension estimate from Pension Agency was completely wrong. Capita stated that they might get round to this in the next 6 months, so I emailed Simon Stevens and Managing Director of Capita stating that they were contravening pension regulations and it was sorted out in two weeks. so go to the top if you have a problem.
Zoe your blog does not refer to the fact that in APril 2016 uplift there was 35 million included in this for indemnity for all GP. I have not received a penny of this from my practice as they state they have spent the money on other costs. As my employer is not contracted to pay any of my idemnity and the GMS contract with NHS England does not state they have to do this, then I am not in the least reassured that the practice will give me any money from April 2017 onwards either. this is an instance when the BMA needs to be tough and state that the practices when they get their uplift are contractually required to share this money out equally and need to demonstrate that they have done so, if not they will be in breach of their contract with NHS England. As most of the GP on the GPC are partners I wonder if this is why yet again salaried GP are likley to be finanically worse off a result of lack of action on the part of the BMA.. Please develop some negotiating teeth and get it right this coming financial year.
I back the last comment wholeheartedly - the Sessional GP Subcommittee must push for equitable access to this funding for ALL Salaried GPs.
My understanding was that the idea of the funding going to Practices rather than individual GPs is that Salaried GPs should be already receiving a recompense sum from their employing Practice each year for their Indemnity cost.. So the funding going to each Practice is to cover this expense for the Practice.
This money is defined by NHS England as specifically for recompense for idemnity - so should not just be absorbed into the Practice pot.
If this funding is not being passed on to Salaried GPs by Practices then that is treating Salaried GPs as 2nd class GPs, amounts to discrimination and is completely unethical.
I agree that this should be a high priority for the Subcommittee.
It is also potentially such a divisive issue - at a time of extreme pressure on General Practice when we should all stand together. If Sessional GPs are undervalued then we may well vote with our feet and that will have the potential to destabilise more Practices. Surely that isn't what we all want or need in these difficult times.
There's an update here from the NASGP with a calculator for locums to work out how to claim for it www.nasgp.org.uk/.../
Does anyone know if OOH GPs are having their MDO fee increases subsidised too as these have gone up much more than in hours sessional fees in the past few years???
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