COVID-19 and the GP performers list

by Rachel McMahon

For sessional GPs facing a lack of work during the pandemic, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from being removed from the performers list.

Location: UK
Published: Thursday 30 July 2020
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The GP performers list is important as it indicates that you are eligible to work as an NHS GP, and provides an extra level of reassurance beyond a doctor's entry on the GMCs GP register.

There are four different lists (one for each of the four nations of the UK) and this guidance is based on the performers list regulations in England.

NHSEI (NHS England and Improvement) is responsible for managing and maintaining the GP performers list. Its primary duty is to ensure that all GPs on the list are able to safely provide patient care.

There are several reasons why a GP can be removed, one of which is a significant break in clinical GP work. This may become relevant to a larger number of GPs owing to COVID-19s effect on the locum market, particularly if they have been out of work for other reasons (eg sickness or parental leave).

The relevant paragraph of the legislation states:

‘Where a Practitioner cannot demonstrate that the Practitioner has performed the services, which those included in the relevant performers list perform, during the preceding twelve months, the Board may remove that Practitioner from the relevant performers list.’

This means that if you havent worked any GP sessions in the past 12 months, NHSEI has the option to remove you from the list and so prevent you from working as an NHS GP. There are a number of defined processes that must be followed for this to occur, and you can protect yourself by taking proactive steps at an early stage.

The BMA sessional GPs committee has been working with NHSEI to ensure it understands the unique challenges that some sessional doctors have faced with a lack of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we have agreement that maximum flexibility will be shown.

After the BMA raised concerns about this, NHSEI is keen to reassure locums who have been unable to work that this will be viewed sympathetically. We believe a similar approach should apply across the four nations.

If you are concerned that you have not worked a GP session for a number of months, and may be at risk of removal from the performers list, our recommendations would be to:

  • Contact your local appraisal team to discuss your work pattern
  • If possible, try to find some GP work, and keep a record of the attempts you have made to do this
  • Make sure that you are keeping up to date – do some CPD, and record this
  • Even though appraisal is suspended at present, consider arranging your appraisal as normal. This will demonstrate your commitment to ongoing GP work, and provide you with some peer support specific for your particular situation
  • Review the 2019 NHSEI publication ‘Supporting doctors who undertake a low volume of NHS General Practice clinical work’
  • If you receive any formal letters about potential removal from the performers list, then contact your MDO, the BMA or your LMC immediately for specialist advice.

Rachel McMahon is a representative on the BMA sessional GPs committee.