GP contract indemnity fund 'potentially divisive' for locums and practices

Locums should receive their share of a £30m fund to cover rising GP indemnity costs direct from NHS England to help them avoid conflict with practices that employ them, a senior GPC member has warned.

GPC sessional subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris (Photo: JH Lancy)
GPC sessional subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris (Photo: JH Lancy)

NHS England's decision to pay the indemnity funding to practices rather than individual GPs will create 'potentially divisive' situations for locums and practices, GPC sessional GP subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris told GPonline.

NHS England announced earlier this month that the £30m fund announced as part of the 2017/18 GP contract deal earlier this month will be paid out to practices on a per patient basis.

The BMA subsequently advised locums to up their fees from April to ensure they are indirectly recompensed for their increased indemnity costs through the fund.

The National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP) told GPonline this would amount to a 1% to 2% rise in fees for most locums.

The £30m fund comes out at almost 60p per patient – meaning the average practice of 7,000 patients should be awarded around £4,200.

Dr Norris said: ‘I'm pleased that NHS England and the GPC have recognised that locums are equally affected by the indemnity increases. This funding is for all GPs. In an ideal world, NHS England would be working directly with locums to allow access to the available money.

GP locum indemnity

'It is vitally important that locums communicate the reason for any price rise to the practices they work for. Many locums have good working relationships with a small number of practices and I'd encourage them to discuss it directly.

'Finances are tight across the whole of general practice, and by NHS England not paying the indemnity uplift directly to locums, a potentially divisive situation has been created. Practices already struggling see locums putting fees up.

'It sadly feels uncomfortable all round. Locum GPs should get the funding they are entitled to, but practices must feel that is being done in a transparent way.'

Locums should be clear that the funding is for the average indemnity uplift and not a reimbursement of the full amount, she said.

'Any contribution towards lessening the impact of the massive indemnity costs for GPs has to be welcomed, but until NHS England and the government address the bulk of the expense that is driving GPs out of the profession, and leading them to cut their clinical workload, the problem won't go away,’ she warned.

'Out-of-hours doctors won't be helped by this deal, and it seems strange there is such a push towards extended opening and seven-day services when this section of the workforce will receive no help with their substantial costs.'

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