Sessional and locum GP contract guidance

A roundup of resources for salaried GPs, locum GPs and their employers, including handbooks, model contracts, advice for negotiations and employment rights.

Location: UK
Audience: GPs
Updated: Wednesday 1 May 2024
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​It’s important for sessional GPs and their employers to understand the terms and conditions of their contracts. These BMA resources can help you draw up and negotiate contracts, work with LMCs and locum chambers, and ensure you know your rights.

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BMA contract checking service

Your new employment contract might have issues that you are not aware of and we can provide additional support to get these resolved.

Get your contract checked in 5 days.


Contract checking service

Locum GP and salaried GP handbooks

Exclusively for BMA members, these handbooks give comprehensive advice and information for locum and salaried GPs, and the practices that employ them.


In February 2021, we held a webinar on what you need to do about contract issues and the NHS pension scheme for sessional GPs.

In September 2021, we held a contract explainer webinar with colleagues from the member relations team, which covered the most frequent contractual issues experienced by sessional GPs and included a Q&A.

Sign in, if you are not already, to reveal the link to the webinar below.

Model contract and offer letter for GMS practices

This guidance sets out the original wording of the model contract and offer letter alongside the BMA’s suggested wording and comments.

GP retention scheme model contracts

These are based on minimum terms and conditions for salaried GPs employed by a GMS practice or primary care organisation with some enhancements specific to the GP retention scheme.

Supporting guidance for salaried GPs

Model contract guidance: Understand the minimum terms and conditions for salaried GPs, how to negotiate salaries and appropriate uplifts, and the process of changing hours of work in light of the extended access DES. This guidance applies in principle to all four nations of the UK, with some variation in process. Use the model contract for salaried GPs toolkit.

You can find information about salaried GP pay to support salary negotiations, including recommendations from the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Renumeration Body, and how these should be considered in light of other factors.

Working with your LMC: Your LMC (local medical committee) can assist you with a wide range of employment and contract issues. This guidance aims to help overcome some of the barriers to engagement between LMCs and sessional GPs. Sessional GPs and LMCs – working together more effectively.

Job planning: Guidance on the job planning process, including specific detailed advice for GPs. What are job plans?


Supporting guidance for locum GPs

Locum practice agreement: Developed by the BMA GPs committee and sessional GPs subcommittee, with the help of BMA Law, this guidance consists of terms and conditions and a work schedule which together form a legal contract that can be used by locum GPs and GP practices for locum engagements. Read the BMA locum practice agreement.

Locum chambers: Answers to some common questions on joining and setting up a locum chambers. Use the locum chambers toolkit.

Rights: Agency Workers Regulations entitle agency workers to equal treatment with directly recruited employees with respect to basic employment conditions, such as pay, holidays, night work, breaks and working hours.

Fees: Our guidance on fees for locum services, to help with your negotiations. Read our guidance for locums and employers.


Supporting guidance for zero hours contracts

Many organisations, outside of a traditional GMS practice setting, are increasingly seeking to employ GPs on zero hours contracts, for which there are no nationally agreed terms and which often do not provide security or the level of contractual entitlements found within the national salaried model terms.

This guidance seeks to set out some guidelines to GPs and employers on the key contractual and engagement considerations. If you are a GP and have been offered work on a zero hours contract, and are in doubt about its terms, we recommend that you seek independent legal advice or approach the BMA’s contract checking service.


International GP recruitment scheme

International GP recruitment scheme (IGPR) was launched as part of NHS England’s efforts to recruit doctors from overseas into NHS General Practice. The scheme is ongoing and has broadened its scope from doctors from the European Economic Area, to doctors from other part of the world where there is some similarity between training programmes. For more information please visit the NHS England website.

The BMA worked with NHS England and Health Education England on the production of model contract of employment for IGPR recruits. The model contract is based on the BMA’s salaried GP model contract. 

Enhanced shared parental leave for sessionals

As of 24 June 2021, Salaried GPs in England will be able to access enhanced shared parental leave. In addition, in March 2022 BMA Scotland and BMA Cymru Wales secured agreement for enhanced shared parental leave to be made available to Salaried GPs in Scotland and Wales.

This will be available to them through the incorporation of a contract variation, which GP practices have agreed upon request to incorporate into a Salaried GP's contract.

Please find the variations required for this to take place below: