Cashflow fears for locums as government relaxes 10-week pension rule

Locums will have longer to declare pensionable income under plans to relax a 10-week time limit during the coronavirus outbreak - but could face cashflow problems as practices struggle to pay on time.

National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP) chair Dr Richard Fieldhouse said locum GPs risked missing the existing 10-week pension contribution deadline during the COVID-19 outbreak because practices are struggling to pay them on time amid workforce and workload challenges.

However, the NASGP has confirmed that the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has agreed to relax the 10-week limit to submit forms during the pandemic, giving practices and locums extra time to process pension payments - although full details are yet to be revealed.

Although the change will ease pressure on locums around pensions, Dr Fieldhouse warned that delayed payments could leave them struggling with cashflow.

NHS pensions

Dr Fieldhouse warned that whatever extension to the 10-week limit is agreed should give locums at least an extra month to submit forms. He said a significant extension would give them ‘one less thing to worry about’.

An extended time limit had been vital, he said, because with considerable staff shortages in primary care as doctors and other staff continue to self-isolate in large numbers, surgeries were struggling to pay locums on time.

‘A couple of weeks ago the NASGP wrote to NHS Pensions because we foresaw that this would be a problem and we asked them if they could relax these rules,' he said.

‘This was because practices are going to be paying people late, or locums are going to be so busy that they won't have time to do it. There's just too much to do at the moment and practices are really, really busy, they are overstretched, practice managers are going off ill because of stress and getting COVID-19.

Locum GPs

‘So the DWP has agreed to relax the rules around the 10A form but it is still to give us more details, for example, how long they're going to extend it by… but locums won't have to be restricted to the 10-week period,' he added.

‘Obviously practices might have some cashflow problems as well. So it's just to add some extra capacity to give the system a bit more slack, just one less thing to worry about. It's to stop a problem happening - we're being proactive here rather than reactive,’ he added.

GPonline reported earlier this week that the BMA was working with NHS England on a deal to secure death-in-service rights for locums during the pandemic.

The deal could see locums employed on zero hours contracts under a single national agreement.

The move comes after surveys conducted by the NASGP and the Doctors Association UK (DAUK) found that locum GPs were making themselves less available for sessions during the pandemic.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

GP workload fears over antibody testing rollout for 'no clinical benefit'

GP workload fears over antibody testing rollout for 'no clinical benefit'

GP practices are being contacted by patients asking for antibody tests as the government...

Top GP spells out actions to protect BAME staff after PHE review fails to offer solutions

Top GP spells out actions to protect BAME staff after PHE review fails to offer solutions

The BMA's top GP has spelled out the advice and support practices need to protect...

GP time per patient slumps to lowest level in half a decade

GP time per patient slumps to lowest level in half a decade

GP time available per patient has dropped by six and a half minutes since 2015 -...

An uncompromising defender of the NHS: colleagues remember Dr Ron Singer

An uncompromising defender of the NHS: colleagues remember Dr Ron Singer

Colleagues and friends have paid tribute after the death of East London GP Dr Ron...

COVID-19 death rate highest among BAME groups, delayed PHE review confirms

COVID-19 death rate highest among BAME groups, delayed PHE review confirms

Death rates from COVID-19 are highest among patients from BAME groups, according...

GPs face hundreds of complaints over shielding and PPE during pandemic

GPs face hundreds of complaints over shielding and PPE during pandemic

GP practices have faced hundreds of complaints over issues including shielding and...