The Department of Health (DH) has announced that under plans set out in the consultation on GP contract changes, practices will be paid an average of £1,500 per annum to cover locum superannuation costs, whether or not they use them.
The amount has been calculated from the rate paid by primary care organisations (PCOs), which currently pay the 14 per cent locum superannuation rate.
However, under the proposed plans, the DH wants practices to pay the superannuation themselves and the money will be transferred into the global sum, although the British Medical Association (BMA) is campaigning for the DH to delay this proposal for a year.
The BMA’s objections is that if it goes into the global sum, around 40 per cent of practices will not get anything, as it won’t be based on use but patient numbers.
Since the practices that use locums tend to be smaller, this would penalise them and could put them off using locums from April, when the changes are due to come in.
At the moment, there is an advantage in using locums, because the practice itself does not have to pay superannuation or National Insurance, but under the proposals that would not be the case.
Critics have said that, as well as negatively affecting some practices’ cash flow, there will be a paperwork burden that will disproportionately fall on smaller practices.
In addition, the proposals will make it more complicated for practices and will create more unknowns, as they will have to work out how to get this money from the global sum and how it will be administered.
However, a DH spokesperson said that its proposals are intended to ensure that the payment arrangements are fair and equitable to GP practices.
As an accountant; David Jacobs offers a range of accounting, audit and taxation advice to the legal and medical professions.