The Registrar Year - Regulations on pay and expenses

A look at the various expenses payable to GP registrars, by Dr Kevin Brown.

When I was a registrar I wasn't worried about finding out where my living expenses and salary came from. I thought it was up to the practice manager in my training practice to somehow acquire funding to pay me at the end of the month.

The arrival of funds for vocational training at a practice follows a circuitous route. DoH rules state that the SHA or equivalent will make payments to a GP trainer (approved under the VTS for General Medical Practice Regulations 1997) of the various allowances and expenses associated with training a GP registrar. The SHA devolves money to the deaneries, the deaneries allocate resources to the appropriate primary care organisation and, in our area, the PCT uses the PPSA (Patient and Practitioner Services Agency) to reimburse claims from an individual practice.

The allowances claimable by a practice on behalf of trainer and registrar include the trainer's grant and the registrar's expenses.

What follows are the rules as they apply to registrars training in England.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are able to make their own, slightly different arrangements.

Salary and living expenses

The registrar's salary consists of a basic allowance that is equivalent to that rate of pay received in the last hospital post plus a registrar supplement, usually in the range of £16,000-£20,000 (an incremental progression for the number of years the registrar has been a senior house officer).

Another way of working out what you should be earning is to take your last hospital post salary and then multiply it by 1.65.

Consultants or staff-grade doctors who change career will receive a salary equivalent to their last hospital post when they become GP registrars.

If your training practice is located in the London zone or the fringe area you are entitled to an additional £1,983 for the London zone, or £149 for the fringe, per year because of the high costs of living. This is called the London weighting allowance.

Car allowance

Car allowance is £4,598 for one year, or £3,016 for a part-time registrar for each of two years. A discussion with the Inland Revenue is often required, because anything considered above an expenses claim for a year for travel counts as profit and might be taxable. Registrars using mopeds or motorcycles can also receive a proportional car allowance: 20 per cent being payable if the engine capacity is below 50cc, and 33 per cent if above.

The cost of an extra phone extension at the trainer's surgery or at the registrar's residence might be reimbursable if there is proof that they are necessary. However, changes in out-of-hours practice mean that this rule might not apply as frequently as it used to.

Other extras

The fee for the professional defence organisation (above that paid in a previous hospital post) is reimbursed.

The employer's national insurance contribution paid by the practice is reimbursed, and the registrar is responsible for the employee share.

Superannuation is paid by the PPSA. The employee share is taken at source by PPSA on behalf of the registrar before other allowances are paid.

Accommodation and removal expenses

When a registrar joins a training practice in a different area, they might be able to have expenses reimbursed or be entitled to a grant. However, in these days of cash-strapped PCTs, it would be sensible to gain written confirmation before committing to large removal expenses.

Course fees

As a GP registrar, a portion of training outside the accredited training practice will be paid for. According to the London Deanery website, the Department of Postgraduate General Practice will provide you with an educational allowance of £450 for the whole year. The allowance for part-time GP registrars will be the same but will extend over the total training period.

This training allowance has to cover course fees, travel and subsistence expenses incurred during the educational event.

Since September 2005, it is possible to claim back course booking fees against the educational allowance. Previously, booking fees were non-reimbursable.

- Dr Kevin Brown is a GP trainer in Bideford, Devon

- Next week, sickness pay and maternity leave

LEARNING POINTS

What you need to know about your pay and expenses

- The registrar's salary consists of a basic allowance that is equivalent to that received in the last hospital post plus a registrar supplement, usually in the range £16,000-£20,000.

Consultant or staff-grade doctors who change career will receive a salary equivalent to their last hospital post.

The car allowance is £4,598 for one year, or £3,016 for a part-time registrar for each of two years.

The registrar is responsible for paying his or her own share of the national insurance contributions.

Check with the new PCT if expenses are reimbursed and grants paid if you join a training practice in a different area.

You will receive an educational allowance of £450 for the duration of your training.

Resources

www.bma.org.uk

www.londondeanery.ac.uk

www.dh.gov.uk.

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