PMS practices denied locum superannuation funds

Employer's pension contributions for locum GPs could be at risk after an NHS England area team refused to offer PMS practices funding to cover the payments.

Dr Richard Vautrey: PMS practices right to be angry
Dr Richard Vautrey: PMS practices right to be angry

GMS practices have been handed funding worth around £1,500 per practice to cover locum superannuation costs - a sum GP leaders say could leave some facing five-figure losses.

But NHS England looks set to allow its local area teams (LATs) to decide whether to offer PMS pracices equivalent funding.

West Yorkshire local area team (LAT) told local practices that despite previous indications they would be treated equally to GMS practices, it had decided not to hand any additional funds to PMS practices.

A letter sent by the LAT on 31 May said: ‘In the absence of national guidance and subsequent clarification from NHS England PMS practices will not receive any additional funding with regards to changes in locum superannuation on the basis that it is recognised that there is significant variation in £ per capita global sum funding between GMS and PMS primary care medical providers, with PMS practices typically receiving higher funding per patient than GMS colleagues.’

Changes made under the imposed GMS contract mean practices are now required to pay employer contributions for locums, which were previously paid by PCTs. West Yorkshire LMCs said the LAT had indicated it would treat GMS and PMS practices equally when transferring payments to cover locum superannuation.

GPC deputy chairman and Leeds GP, Dr Richard Vautrey, said the decision would ‘call into question whether PMS practices would be able to pass on superannuation payments to locums’. He said Leeds LMC had been clear that while it opposed the contract imposition, practices must pass on payments to locums.

But that would only be sustainable if the money was passed onto practices, he warned.

The decision by the LAT showed, despite previous assurances, the shift of superannuation payments was clearly a cost-saving exercise, said Dr Vautrey.

He said PMS practices were ‘rightly angry’ at their treatment by NHS England, which gave the impression of being in chaos.

GPC is not yet aware whether this policy is being replicated by other LATs, but Dr Vautrey called on NHS England to issue national guidance to reverse the decision as soon as possible. Last month the BMA revealed it was aware of ‘dozens’ of cases of locums having fees cut because practice funding was insufficient to cover pension costs.

A letter sent by BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter called on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to make payments the responsibility of NHS England, to be dealt with centrally.

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