GP ovarian cancer event scheduled for January 2024

Dr Eloise Elphinstone will present ‘Ovarian cancer as an abdominal cancer: Update for GPs’ on Thursday 4 January.

Dr Elphinstone has spoken to NASGP members before and returns for the first NASGP webinar of the year next month. She has been a GP in Southwest London for the last seven years.

Before settling in London, she spent a year doing obstetrics and gynaecology in Perth, Western Australia.

Dr Elphinstone holds the diploma in family planning and obstetrics and gynaecology and is a coil and implant fitter at her GP practice. Dr Elphinstone is also a member of the British Menopause Society, is completing her Advanced Certificate in Menopause Care and works for a specialist NHS menopause service.

Join us on Thursday 4 January 2024 at 1pm to learn and ask questions.

Join our event on Thurs 4 Jan 2024

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‘Priority’ queries only for HMRC phonelines until 31 January

Taxpayers will receive no help or support from HMRC’s helplines with frequently-asked questions ahead of the 31 January Self Assessment payment deadline, Accountancy Daily reports.

With seven weeks left to deadline the sudden freeze on access to help may cause many self-employed taxpayers to struggle.

HMRC said that advisors will focus on ‘priority queries’ but gave no indication of what qualifies as ‘priority’.

The announcement, made on Thursday 7 December, comes into force on Monday 11 December.

Overall customer satisfaction with HMRC’s online services is ‘more than 80%’, it reports.

The decision has been heavily criticised by accountants and tax advisers including the Chartered Institute of Taxation and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

The announcement comes just weeks after England’s local medical committees passed a motion condemning PCSE as ‘not fit for purpose’ and called for its contract to be retendered. One representative warned that GPs were quitting over the issue.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “As an organisation, we’re blessed with regular updates from specialist medical accountants Honey Barrett, with regular advice from them to get tax returns in early and to develop a good rapport with your accountant, so that they’re not only submitting your return for you but also on hand to answer any tax-related questions.

“But we do also understand that as very busy GPs, with the vagaries of PCSE to deal with too, some of us may not yet have submitted our returns.

“If that’s you, you may be lucky enough to engage a specialist medical accountant now (an early Christmas present, perhaps?). Otherwise, you may find some support on our members’ only forum, or on our GP-only Facebook group.”

Join our free trial for regular updates like this.

NASGP supports Health Poverty Action’s Rwanda campaign

NASGP’s charitable donation this Xmas will support a new campaign by Health Poverty Action (HPA) highlighting their work with partners in Rwanda to tackle gender-based violence and help people find work.

HPA is working with communities in Rwanda to ensure that people who’ve experienced gender-based violence, and those whose economic status places them at greater risk, can gain financial independence, improve their social status and better defend their rights. HPA then trains people and supports them to gain better-paid employment.

By connecting people with tea estates and helping them develop specialist harvesting skills, the charity is creating opportunities for people to improve their livelihoods and bring more money into rural communities struggling with high rates of unemployment.

Under the ‘Cultivating Change’ campaign, our £250 donation on behalf of members can cover:

  • Materials to support work readiness training (£16).
  • Protective equipment so people can earn a living wage harvesting tea (~£22 for PPE for one person).
  • Pay for a trainer to provide a month of work training for survivors of gender-based violence (£200 a month).

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “Each year, NASGP is proud to uphold a longstanding tradition of giving back during the holiday season. This year, we are especially honoured to support Health Poverty Action’s ‘Cultivating Change’ campaign.

“It’s not just about immediate aid, but about empowering individuals with the skills and opportunities they need to achieve long-lasting financial independence and improved social status. We believe in the power of sustainable change, and we are thrilled to be part of this transformative journey.

“On behalf of the entire NASGP team, we extend our warmest holiday wishes to all our members.”

Survey: Mixed picture on locum sessions worked this year

Around half of GP locums have reported a decrease in their sessions worked over the past year due to a lack of work available, a new Pulse survey has found.

The magazine also found that the number of GP vacancies advertised has almost halved in a year.

The survey found that 27% maintained their sessions worked and 8% increased them. A further 17% decreased their workload through personal circumstances, including by choice.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of the National Association of Sessional GPs, said the NASGP estimates there are around 6,000 more locums practising in the UK than in 2017.

He told Pulse earlier this week: “If we’re not employing these non-salaried, non-partner GPs, it becomes unsustainable for them to continue as GPs, then they’re going to leave, in big numbers. Once you’ve lost a GP, they don’t ever really come back, not in any useful way.

“If we don’t do something urgently to retain these GPs, who we’ve invested so much in, then once their workload gets below a certain point, I think general practice as we know it could effectively crash overnight. Practices must be allowed to use ARRS funding to engage GP locums and appoint salaried GPs.”

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Fair terms ‘four times more important than pay’ – GP locums

A survey of nearly 800 GP locums has revealed that four times more GPs say fair terms and safe workload is their priority, compared with the number that prioritises their pay.

Some 37% of respondents told us that ‘Fair terms and safe workload’ were the most important thing when deciding where to work as a GP locum. Just 8% of respondents prioritised ‘Good rates’.

And when asked about the most important thing for them as a GP locum, 41% told us it was the ability to set their own terms. By contrast, just 11% said it was the ability to set their own rates.

The survey also found that flexibility is the best thing about being a GP locum, according to the majority of GPs locums. Some 53% of respondents said the best thing about being a GP locum was ‘more flexibility’.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “It’s clear from our survey that while pay is certainly a consideration, GP locums are prioritising fair terms and safe workloads above all else. This is a powerful reminder that our profession is driven by a commitment to patient care and personal wellbeing, rather than just financial gain. We often find ourselves in conversations where locum rates are used to undermine us, perhaps as a negotiating tactic, or as a reaction to poor terms and unsafe work environments.

“Our primary goal in developing LocumDeck was to empower GP locums to define their own terms and ensure a safe clinical workload, which in turn benefits the patients we serve. We wanted to create an environment where rates are reflective of the choices we make for our own wellbeing and professional satisfaction.

“In addition, LocumDeck provides practices with the ability to book locums instantly, creating a seamless and efficient process. This has resulted in the creation of a national network of GP locums and practices, offering a sustainable solution for our flexible GP workforce.

“The results of this survey underscore the importance of our mission and reinforce our commitment to continue supporting and advocating for GP locums. Together, we are shaping the future of our profession.”

Read our survey in full.

More GPs face higher tax bills after Autumn Statement freeze

Despite the abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions, more GPs face higher income tax bills, accountants have warned.

Andrew Pow, board member of the Association of Independent Specialist Medical Accountants, said: “The 2% cut in the main employee NIC rate from 6 January, coming three months earlier than the self-employed reduction, will benefit salaried employees and other staff members,” he said. “For a salaried GP on £50,000, this will mean a saving of around £700 a year.”

Pow added that GP locums would save £192 a year from the abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions (NICs), and benefit from a 1% cut in Class 4 contributions on profits between £12,570 and £50,270 in the new tax year. For a self-employed GP on £50,000, the Class 4 cut will save around £375 a year.

But, he explained, some of these savings will be lost: “The bigger picture, however, is that because income tax thresholds remain frozen until 5 April 2028, more people are paying more tax at higher levels.”

Liz Densley, director of AISMA firm Honey Barrett, said: “National insurance for employees takes effect from 6th January 2024. The employee rate is cut by 2% for earnings between £12,570 and £50,270 so the maximum saving p.a. is 754.00 for those earning over £50,270.” But, she added, for people using their own company and paying a low salary with dividends there is no change at all.

Densley also noted that from next April ‘cash basis’ rather than ‘accruals basis’ will become the default method for accounting, so GP locums will be taxed on the received and expenses paid rather than the period to which they relate.

She concurred with Pow’s remarks, saying: “There is no change to tax rates – but inflation will generally mean that more higher-rate tax will be paid proportionately as salary increases.”

No new GP funding was announced in the Autumn Statement, and the national minimum wage will rise by £1.02 from April: both factors are likely to increase the pressure on general practices.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “I think our current Chancellor may have been the sort of kid who used to hide his broccoli under the side of his plate to pretend he’d eaten it. He’s now trying it out on us with his Autumn Statement. It might look good for now, but we’ll be no better off down the line.

“As always, we really appreciate our accountancy colleagues at AISMA and Honey Barrett for looking after our long term financial interests and helping us navigate the murky waters of tax and national insurance.”

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GP views sought on physician associates for BMA survey

GPs and BMA members have been asked their views on physician associates for a new survey by the BMA.

The survey, open until Monday 27 November, asks whether participants have experience of working with physician associates (PAs) or anaesthesia associates (AAs), as well as their views on the roles.

Last month the RCGP chair warned listeners of the GP Online podcast that PAs must work within ‘red lines’.

Prof Hawthorne said she had also been warned that it would take a year for PAs to become regulated by the GMC.

Earlier that month, the BMA had declared that the public finds the new PA role ‘highly misleading and confusing’.

And new campaign group, RestoreGP, has begun its own public information campaign to distinguish GPs and PAs.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “As GPs, our work often takes us across a myriad of clinical roles and settings, giving us the opportunity to work with an exciting and diverse range of clinicians and patients. Yet, this variety also poses challenges, especially when it comes to understanding the professional boundaries within which each clinician operates. This is particularly relevant in the context of emerging roles such as physician associates.

“While their contribution can greatly enhance primary care, it is crucial that we, as GPs, are fully aware of the extent of our responsibilities and the implications of any decisions made concerning patient care.

“Whilst LocumDeck includes a terms and conditions template for locums to express their willingness to supervise non-GPs, it is clear that more needs to be done by the profession to provide clarity on this matter. The recent survey by the BMA is a step in the right direction and I encourage all GPs to participate and voice their experiences and views in this new survey from Pulse.”

Join NASGP to get weekly news updates on working as a sessional GP.

Workload and burnout behind new GP trends, GMC finds

Numbers of UK medical graduates joining the GP register fell 4% in 2022 compared with 2018 according to the GMC’s 2023 workforce report, GP Online reported.

Meanwhile, the number of IMG doctors rose by 192% during the same period, triple the number in 2018.

GP numbers rose from 61,313 in 2018 to 66,170 in 2022.

“The UK’s healthcare systems must address why general practice appears to be less attractive to UK graduates, which will require efforts to resolve the persistent issues in workloads and other indicators of burnout that GPs report,” authors wrote.

Earlier this year, data analysed by the Institute for Government (IfG) found that one in five GPs under 30 quit the profession last year.

The GMC report also found that in England, there is a slight downward trend in headcount to FTE ratio from 0.81 in September 2015 to 0.75 in April 2023, which is an 8% decrease.

“The gradually decreasing FTE to headcount in primary care in England (roughly 1% annually) suggests that, in order to maintain the current GP workforce capacity, this section of the workforce would require a corresponding increase in headcount to compensate for more doctors working less than full time,” authors wrote.

Authors also noted that the number of specialty and associate specialist (SAS) doctors and locally employed (LE) doctors rose from 48,199 in 2018 to 70,517 in 2022, overtaking GP numbers.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “The decrease in UK graduates joining the GP register is a concern, and it’s crucial that we delve deeper to understand the factors contributing to this trend as well as recognising the significant increase in IMG doctors joining our ranks, and providing the necessary support and resources for them to thrive in their roles.

“At NASGP, we continue to advocate for a working environment that is sustainable, rewarding, and conducive to high standards of patient care. We also acknowledge the need for strategic planning to increase our current workforce capacity, and continue to play our part in this. The future of general practice relies on our collective efforts, and we stand ready to face these challenges with the rest of the profession”.

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Lowest-earning GPs to pay higher pension contributions

GPs earning from £13,247-£17,673 will see their contributions hop from 5.7% to 6.5% from April 2024, Pulse reports.

And GPs earning under £13,246 pensionable income will also find their contributions rising, in their case from 5.1% to 5.2%.

But GPs with pensionable earnings of £75,633 per year or more will pay lower NHS pension contributions rates from April 2024.

And GPs earning £30,639-£45,996 or £58,973-£75,632 will see their rates frozen.

The number of tiers has been simplified from 11 to six for the year beginning 1 April 2024.

The abolition of the lifetime allowance earlier this year slowed the exodus of members from the NHS Pension Scheme but many remain disillusioned by the ongoing failures of the PCSE service.

Many GPs will now be awaiting compensation, due next year, through the McCloud remedy for NHS Pension Scheme members affected during the 2019/2020 tax year.

GP pension tiers in England and Wales 2024/25

Pensionable earnings Contribution rate from 1 April 2024
Up to £13,246 5.2%
£13,247 to £25,146 6.5%
£25,147 to £30,638 8.3%
£30,639 to £45,996 9.8%
£45,997 to £58,972 10.7%
£58,973 and above 12.5%

Read Ten common questions about GP locum pensions

‘Use ARRS money to employ GP locums’, Pulse editor writes

Jaimie Kaffash, the editor of GP title Pulse, has called on the Government to allow practices and PCNs to reallocate additional roles reimbursement scheme (ARRS) funding.

In an editorial published on Wednesday, he writes of the GP recruitment crisis: “There is a really easy way out of this, of course: allow practices and primary care networks to use ARRS money to employ locums.

“This will improve patient safety, which has to be the priority for the NHS and the Government. And putting the trust in GPs to spend this funding on the right roles is a much better approach than the current ‘NHS knows best’ attitude that would have made a 1960s GP blush.”

ARRS provides PCNs with funding for roles such as pharmacists, physician associates and physiotherapists.

But debate rages amongst clinicians as to the safety and risk management involved in physician associate role in particular. Last week the GP Committee for England (GPCE) passed an emergency motion ‘expressing concerns over the increasing trend of PAs being used to substitute GPs’, and calling for a freeze ‘until appropriately safe regulatory processes and structures are in place’.

Meanwhile, NASGP’s platform LocumDeck has recently seen its busiest day on record.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “If there’s one thing we know for sure about GP practices, it’s that they have the best understanding of their patients’ needs. Therefore, limiting their options to specific clinician roles, especially when we are still trying to figure out the best way to supervise and support these new roles, is not solving an existing problem but rather creating a new one.

“Jaimie’s proposal to expand ARRS funding to GPs is an excellent idea, particularly considering the GPC’s recent emergency motion.

“As an organisation, we have witnessed the benefits that GPs and practices reap from collaboration on LocumDeck, and we hope to see such mutually beneficial relationships thrive nationwide. We encourage any practices or GP locums who wish to see their ICB funding LocumDeck in their region to reach out to us. We are more than willing to assist in convincing local decision-makers to adopt LocumDeck locally.”

LocumDeck: ‘Busiest day ever’ on Instant Book last month

Practices made the highest ever total of daily bookings using LocumDeck’s Instant Book feature, NASGP can report.

On Saturday 21 October, NASGP saw the highest number of Instant Booked sessions in a single day.

Bookings for the month of October were up 10% compared with the previous month, and up 25% year on year.

October’s return to form is a sign that pre-Covid seasonal trends for GP locums (a quiet September followed by a busy October) have returned.

LocumDeck’s Instant Book feature helps GPs get booked instantly after adding their own dates, rates and terms to the platform. When a GP sets up ‘Instant Book’ in LocumDeck, they authorise which practices are allowed to see their real-time availability. The GP can specify in detail the type of work they are prepared to carry out at each practice, and the timings and rates of the sessions they offer; authorised practices only see the sessions that the GP offers them. Once a practice books an offered session, GPs receive notifications by text and email.

Analysis of rates for locums using Instant Book shows most GPs using this feature charge 10% more compared with manual bookings.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of NASGP, said: “What’s so exciting for GP locums is that it’s clear that the popularity of Instant Book stems from its ability to level the playing field for GP locums. This feature aligns us with professional service providers in other sectors, empowering us to determine our own rates and terms, much like accountants and lawyers, where we have control over our professional responsibilities, rather than having to fit with ways of working where we have less control.

“This not only allows us to take control and responsibility for our clinical practice, without external impositions, but also ensures we are remunerated in a way that means we can continue to support practices long term.

“Furthermore, the convenience offered by Instant Book to practices is undeniable, granting them unparalleled access to professionals and facilitating bookings – even over the weekend! It’s a win-win for practices and GP locums.”

Professor Tony Avery and Drs Katy Miller and Heidi Mounsey of MPS will lead sessions as part of Guidelines 2023’s first ever NASGP stream. A pass for both days (21-22 Nov) is available at £29 (70% off) to NASGP members. Login for the discount link.

Free Macmillan talk on cancer in general practice launches

NASGP has launched its final talk of the year this week.

‘Cancer: GP early diagnosis and personalised care’ will be delivered by Macmillan GP Dr Anthony Cunliffe.

It follows a well-received webinar by Dr Andy Whittamore of Asthma+Lung UK on asthma and Feno testing in general practice.

Join our event on Thurs 7 Dec 2023

We'll send you the link in a reminder on the day.

Last chance to book free place on GP asthma webinar

GPs can sign up for a free talk on treating asthma until midnight on Wednesday night this week.

Dr Andy Whittamore, clinical lead at Asthma + Lung UK, will be giving an hour-long talk online on Thursday.

Topics include treating asthma in general practice and the use of Feno testing.

There will also be time for questions at the end of the talk.

The lunchtime talk, which will be the penultimate in the series this year, follows a presentation on GP locum accounting from specialist medical accountant Adrian Cousens earlier this month.

NASGP members can also add to their 2023 learning plan by joining NASGP’s stream at Guidelines 2023 at London’s ExCel Centre. Professor Tony Avery and Dr Caroline Osborne-White will lead sessions as part of Guidelines 2023’s NASGP stream. Tickets are priced at £29 for both days for members.

Sign up for Dr Whittamore’s talk using the form below.

Join our event on Thurs 2 Nov 2023

We'll send you the link in a reminder on the day.

GPs’ housing should be funded, Kent council says

GPs in Swale in Kent should have their housing costs subsidised, the local borough council has told the health secretary.

In a letter to Steve Barclay, seen by Pulse, Swale Borough Council called on Steve Barclay to deliver ‘funded solutions’ to draw more GPs to work locally.

The borough Swale, which includes the Isle of Sheppey, suffers from recruitment challenges owing to its remote and rural geography. Sheerness on Sheppey also includes pockets of intense deprivation.

Communities in the UK are turning to more unorthodox means of finding new family doctors. Last February, villagers in Lostwithiel, Cornwall recorded a music video in the hopes of attracting a new salaried GP to the area.

Last year, Alderney in Guernsey was forced to close its local GP practice after a failure to recruit a new GP to a vacancy.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “It is encouraging to witness Swale Borough Council’s proactive stance in addressing this issue by calling for government-backed local funding initiatives. Through our work with ICBs, we are acutely aware of the recruitment crisis in remote and rural practices. We strongly urge the Government to consider implementing solutions such as a relocation fund to enhance GP recruitment and retention in boroughs like Swale.

“However, it is crucial that the responsibility does not solely fall on local councils, whose resources are already strained. The Government should be investing more substantially in its GP workforce at a foundational level – easing the process for IMGs to remain in the UK post-qualification, and engaging more effectively with the burgeoning sessional GP workforce. This would help alleviate the mounting issue of increasing GP workload while ensuring sustainable healthcare provision across the country.”

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Physician associates must work within ‘red lines’: RCGP

Physician associates (PAs) must always work under a qualified GP, Prof Kamilla Hawthorne has told GP Online.

On GP’s podcast, Prof Hawthorne told editor Emma Bower: “I’m concerned that PAs and other allied healthcare professionals should have a proper induction when they come into general practice. There should be time in that practice to supervise them properly – and I don’t think that’s happening in some cases.”

Prof Hawthorne said she had also been warned that it would taken a year for PAs to become regulated by the GMC: “The last I’ve heard from the GMC is it’s going to take over a year for that to actually happen – and that’s not quick enough for me… They need to be regulated now so that they know how to behave, they know how to introduce themselves, and they know how to make sure that the patient in front of them doesn’t think that they’re seeing a doctor, because they’re not doctors.”

Earlier this month the Faculty of Physician Associates provided guidance on PA titles and introduction, but the BMA has warned that the public finds the new role ‘highly misleading and confusing’.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse said: “It’s bad enough that regulation wasn’t in place before physician associates were given the green light, let alone that it’s going to take more than a year to implement.

“And I think PAs will be the first to agree that, like any other professional, they too need clearly defined boundaries, so that they know what’s in their control, what they’re responsible for, and what they’re not.

“And every GP needs to understand exactly their position when working alongside PAs. This is for the safety of PAs themselves, the safety of GPs supervising them, and most importantly the safety of the patients we’re trying to help.”

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Four in 10 GP partners ‘would go salaried for the right deal’

A new Pulse survey has found that GP partners are split over going salaried.

Of 408 GP partners who took part, some 43% said they would move from partner to salaried with the right deal on the table, while 44% would not.

Some partners told Pulse they were already in the middle of quitting. One told a report that she had quit a partnership for a zero-hours contract at the PCN.

The findings add to an ongoing debate in general practice over the increasing challenges of working as a GP partner.

Earlier this year Sir Keir Starmer called for more salaried GPs, and shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has admitted considering a salaried model for UK general practice.

The IPPR has also published a report proposing that GPs become ‘primary care consultants’.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “So much of what we know about workplace culture and job satisfaction is linked to safety and productivity. Simply put, if we’re not enjoying our work, we will work less effectively, and that just puts more strain on everyone else around us.

“It’s a race to the bottom that no one wants, but many of our colleagues are unwittingly victims of this downward spiral of mounting responsibility and reduced control.

“It remains to be seen if moving to working as salaried – even with the right deal on the table – would lead to any better outcomes. The partnership role is nevertheless vital, and we call on the GPC to continue their work in protecting it. Meanwhile if any GPs are feeling burnt out and leave their posts, do get in touch.”

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Salaried GP ‘overtime tracker’ toolkit launched by BMA 

Salaried GPs have been urged to track their working hours as part of a new campaign by the BMA following reports of missing pay rises.

Last week NASGP reported that some salaried GPs have been told that ‘no money has come through the contract’ for the six percent pay rise due to them. The story was picked up by Management In Practice.

The BMA, led by the General Practitioners Committee’s sessional GP subcommittee, has now launched a toolkit including an overtime rate card and letter to employers about its use.

The union recommends that overtime be paid at 150% in core hours and 200% outside core hours.

It also recommends that overtime time off in lieu (TOIL) be provisioned at 1.5 hours per hour worked for core hours, and two hours outside.

The BMA is also developing a ‘GP Diary’ app to track hours, compare job plans against hours worked, and summarise overwork for employers.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, wrote: “Any negotiation by GP partners with the government for more pay will fail at the first hurdle if they’re found not to be valuing the GPs they employ. And while many practices were instantly forthcoming with regards to passing on the 6% pay rise, many have been less forthcoming, which not only undermines their salaried GPs, but also themselves and their colleagues’s efforts to fight for more funding for general practice.”

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Asthma and Feno testing GP talk launched for November

Dr Andy Whittamore of Asthma + Lung UK will present a free NASGP talk on asthma and Feno (Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide) testing in general practice next month.

Dr Whittamore is a Portsmouth GP and a clinical lead at the respiratory charity Asthma + Lung UK.

The lunchtime talk, which will be the penultimate in the series this year, follows a presentation on GP locum accounting from specialist medical accountant Adrian Cousens earlier this month.

NASGP members can also add to their 2023 learning plan by joining NASGP’s stream at Guidelines 2023 at London’s ExCel Centre. Professor Tony Avery and Dr Caroline Osborne-White will lead sessions as part of Guidelines 2023’s NASGP stream. Tickets are priced at £29 for both days for members.

Sign up for Dr Whittamore’s talk using the form below.

Join our event on Thurs 2 Nov 2023

We'll send you the link in a reminder on the day.

GP locum pension forms updated on LocumDeck

GPs will be expected to use new pension forms from October 2023 onwards, NASGP has learned.

LocumDeck has updated its automated pensions paperwork after NHS Pensions changed the Locum Forms A and B at the end of September.

The new forms are needed because the forms issued at the start of the pension year in April 2023 only ran until 30 September 2023 in preparation for a possible change in employee contribution rates in October 2023.

In the event, there has been no change to employee contribution rates in October. So only the dates on the forms have been updated to now run until 31 March 2024.

GPs who use LocumDeck will not be expected to make any changes, but may notice the new appearance of the forms.

Login to LocumDeck to see the new forms. 

2023 pay rise: ‘No money’ for uplift, salaried GPs told

Salaried GPs have been told that ‘no money has come through the contract’ for the six percent pay rise due to them.

GPs took to NASGP’s closed group on Facebook to discuss the differences across England:

  • One of NASGP’s closed GP group on Facebook commented that they had had ‘no [pay rise] at all’.
  • Another working at two practices said that the pay rise had ‘not even been acknowledged to date’ by either employer.
  • A third reported no pay rise.

Some GPs have been promised a pay rise to come. One GP told colleagues: “The practice is aware of it and is anticipating it but what I’ve been told is that they haven’t reviewed the funds for it yet.”

Other GPs have had more success. One GP wrote: “Yes, and it’s been paid in September’s pay including the backdated pay from April onwards.” Another reported that they had received the payrise, after having ‘proactively addressed’ it. A third, on maternity leave, had had the pay rise backdated. A fourth GP reported having it backdated to April.

The global sum for GP practices in England has been increased from £102.28 to £104.73 per patient, in order to finance a 6% staff uplift, Pulse reported on Monday 2 October.

Shortly after the announcement the General Practitioners’ Committee (GPC) provided specific advice, writing: “The BMA model contract specifies an annual salary uplift linked to annual DDRB awards and a date at which the uplift should be applied.

“If no such date is stated in the salaried GP employee’s contract, both committees believe the default uplift date should be 1 April.

“If the BMA model contract has been amended by the practice and employee by mutual consent, for example where different terms are stated, contractors should comply with the terms of the employment contract.

“If no uplifts are referenced within an employees contract then the employer has discretion, but we encourage practices to pass on the uplift they receive for the purpose it is intended.”

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “Although GP partners face huge complexities in managing practices, particularly in these challenging times, it’s crucial to remember that the BMA model contract is not merely a guideline but a commitment to fair employment practices for salaried GPs. The 6% pay uplift is not just a number: it’s a reflection of the value and hard work that salaried GPs bring to their roles, especially under current pressures.

“And practices are certainly feeling the financial strain, so it’s essential to view this uplift as an investment in the stability and quality of the service they provide. We encourage your practices to honour this commitment and urge you to actively seek the uplift you are due. In the end, a well-supported GP workforce benefits us all.”

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Spring Budget slowed NHS Pension drop-outs, FOI finds

The number of NHS staff members opting out of the pension scheme has almost halved year on year since the Budget, Pulse reports.

Freedom of information requests about April-June 2023 and 2022 uncovered a drop of 46% according to NHS Business Services Authority data, Wesleyean found.

The chancellor Jeremy Hunt abolished the lifetime allowance (LTA) and lifted the annual allowance from £40,000 to £60,000 last April.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “More NHS staff paying into the NHS pensions scheme is good news for everyone. Contributions from current employees are used to pay the pensions of current retirees, and no doubt incentivises staff to remain within the NHS, which is good for patients

“And it also means NHS staff are more likely to have more to spend in retirement if they’ve been paying into the Scheme for longer.

“This change did not come about spontaneously, but was a long, hard fought battle by the BMA, to everyone’s benefit.”

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GP ‘Instant Book’ sessions up 50 percent year on year

Sessions booked through LocumDeck’s Instant Book feature are up 53% year on year, latest data show.

During the last available period (July to August), practices booked 53% more GP locum sessions instantly on LocumDeck compared to the same period in 2022.

At the time of writing, September is due to be up 20% year on year, and 13% month on month.

The data is published during a time of consternation amongst some GP locums that sessions are becoming less available.

At the same time, however, practices have told trade press that they are more reliant on GP locums than ever, with some struggling to find cover. NASGP notes that September is typically a quiet month for holiday cover as salaried and partner GPs return to work after the summer break, and before conference season starts.

LocumDeck’s Instant Book feature has seen double- or triple-figure growth year on year since February 2021, when NASGP began keeping record.

GPs can get booked instantly on LocumDeck after adding their own dates, rates and terms in advance.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “We’re acutely aware that many GP locums are concerned that autumn 2023 is looking a lot quieter than other years, with fingers being pointed at ARRS funding and non-GP clinical roles being rolled out by the NHS. And with ICBs all knee-deep in cost cutting exercises, schemes like Transition cover and transformation support don’t seem to have filtered down to practices yet.

“What we do know beyond doubt is that where local locums have worked with us to encourage their ICBs to fully fund LocumDeck’s use across its area, bookings are extremely healthy, and continue to rise month on month.

“We love to hear from any members who have a relationship with their local training hub or ICB workforce leads. If LocumDeck is something you think would be of benefit locally, please reach out to me via any channel and we’ll see what we can do.”

You can reach Dr Fieldhouse by email, on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as by using our Contact form. 

Two thirds of partners have trouble finding GP locums

Two thirds of GP partners had been unable to recruit a locum at least once when they needed one over the past six months and half said it was difficult to recruit GP locums, a new poll by GP Online reveals.

A total of 44% of 319 GPs who responded said practices they worked at had increased their use of locums over the past six months.

NHS Digital data estimates that there are around 2,200 fewer FTE GPs today compared with 2015, so reliance on locums is likely to be higher now than at any time in the last eight years.

On NASGP’s platform, LocumDeck, although demand continues to outstrip supply, bookings have remained strong all year. Looking at data for larger ICB regions, GP locums are being booked for thousands of sessions a month after adding their availability.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “This survey very much reflects our experience with LocumDeck, that GP locums are a precious resource, experiencing increasing demand.

“In an ideal world, every vacancy for a GP partner or salaried GP role would have a queue of applicants, but this is no longer the case. With the present state of affairs within the NHS, sadly the reality is that many of us now feel we’re able to do a better job as self-employed independent contractors.

“Our profession needs to embrace this new reality, and rather than continue to struggle against it, needs to do far more to support GP locums, to engage with this growing cohort of GPs, and adopt tried and trusted mechanisms like GP chambers to engage and motivate GP locums.”

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NASGP Locum Chambers praised in Uni of Manchester report

Locums are a ‘key component’ the NHS ‘needs’, and should be supported effectively, a new report has found.

Researchers at the University of Manchester published their findings in ‘Locum doctors in the NHS: Understanding and improving the quality and safety of healthcare’. NASGP’s work was picked out for praise in the recommendations.

“In some places, particularly in primary care, self-organised groupings of locum doctors into ‘locum chambers’ have emerged, and this has been supported by the National Association of Sessional GPs. Locum chambers are an interesting and potentially helpful innovation which could provide another way to deal with the governance issues raised above in relation to locum doctors,” authors wrote.

The report also warned of prejudice against locums, including ‘an undertone of racism’, evidenced by qualitative data given by some of the locums interviewed.

They have separately published findings from a survey of GP partners, salaried GPs, other clinical roles (e.g. advanced nurse practitioner), practice managers, non-clinical managers and administrators at GP practices.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, NASGP chair, said: “We are delighted to see the NASGP Locum Chambers model highlighted in this significant piece of research from Manchester University. Whilst chambers are mentioned specifically in terms of a way to deal with clinical governance concerns, they are also ideally placed to help resolve other issues raised, such as the need for peer support and helping in the exchange of information.

“That said, it’s extremely upsetting to see evidence relating to racism in our profession. This is completely unacceptable, and every one of us needs to keep all our senses on alert to ensure this is stamped out at every level.

“Working as a GP locum across multiple settings, with many struggling and others highly challenging, peer support groups like NASGP Locum Chambers are not so much a luxury as an absolute necessity.”

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"Since joining NASGP Locum Chambers I have noted a positive change which I feel has made a significant contribution in both my professional and personal life.

LocumDeck's booking system puts me in touch with a large number of surgeries. I work part-time and the software is intricately tailored to facilitate working at my pace and choice.

In addition, I have access to the NASGP Locum Chambers' supporting infrastructure such as the Chambers Manager through whom all my admin work (like generating invoices and pension forms) is organised. In the past this felt like a load. Now I feel that my time is 'freed up' and so I have a better work-life balance. Working with NASGP Locum Chambers has simplified my life."

Dr Smita Iyer, GP, Essex

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