LMC conference 2014: 'Highly unfair' pension pressure forcing GP locums out of UK practice

GP locums are being driven out of UK general practice due to unfair treatment over pensions, which leading GPs say is contributing to the burgeoning workforce crisis, the LMC conference has heard.

Dr Mary O'Brien: locums forced out (photo: Ken Ferguson)
Dr Mary O'Brien: locums forced out (photo: Ken Ferguson)

Many locums report being subjected to unfair treatment from practices when trying to contribute towards their NHS pension, the conference was told.

Speaking at the annual LMC conference 2014, Dr Krishan Aggarwal, Kensington and Chelsea LMC, said: ‘Practices are given a fixed budget for superannuation locums. Once used, superannuation needs to be paid from the practice’s budget.

‘This causes a situation to arise where a locum contributing the pension scheme effectively becomes 14% more expensive for the practice than a locum who’s not contributing to the scheme.

‘I have colleagues where practice managers have asked pension-contributing locums to reduce their rate by 14% to come in line with those who are not.

'Highly unfair'

‘This is forcing some locums to reduce their rates or opt out of pension schemes to remain competitive. This is highly unfair.’

Dr Mary O’Brien, representing the sessional GP subcommittee of the GPC, also said some locums are finding it ‘too difficult’ to ensure contribution payments and monthly superannuation fees are paid on time.

‘Unfortunately,’ she said, ‘it’s no surprise that many GP locums are getting their sunnies on, voting with their feet and heading to the Land of Oz – which effectively means a loss of the workforce.’

She said the GPC had also heard many reports of practices only employing older locums, who are not in the pension scheme, so they did not have to pay a contribution.

She added: ‘It’s estimated that locum GPs make up at least 20% of the workforce and contribute significantly to the out-of-hours workforce. Less locum GPs equals even more of a workforce crisis both in and out of hours.’

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