Pensions ‘traps’ put sessional GP income at risk, BMA pensions committee chair warns

29th January 2021 by NASGP

Pensions ‘traps’ put sessional GP income at risk, BMA pensions committee chair warns

Pensions problems put sessional GPs at risk of losing hundreds of thousands of pounds, the BMA pensions committee chair warned this week.

Vishal Sharma, BMA pensions committee chair, highlighted ‘less than full-time work’ and parental leave – two of the key concerns for many sessional GPs. 

The talk was organised to particularly address women in medicine, who may be disproportionately affected by pensions issues following career breaks for parental leave. 

Sharma advised attendees that the BMA felt it was ‘completely inappropriate’ for GPs in Career Average Revalued Earnings (CARE) schemes to pay more per £1 of pension if they were part-time, compared with full-time. The BMA continues to lobby on the issue and they will call for contributions to be based on actual, rather than FTE or annualised, pay after next year. 

Sharma used a GP locum case study to explain how this practice puts massive financial pressure on sessional GPs. 

A GP locum working two days a week in the 2015 scheme might earn £42,000 PA, but pays 14.5% pension contributions on an annualised pay of £182,5000 – despite the fact she’s only accruing a pension based on £42,000. 

The chair of the meeting, Dr Helena McKeown, told attendees that her pension ‘got very complicated’ when she changed from GP partnership to GP locum work.

Last year the BMA accused Capita, the company responsible for Primary Care Support England, of making a number of mistakes, including processing errors, incorrect payments or records, and incorrect employer contribution deductions.

You can watch the talk in full on the BMA’s YouTube channel.

"I started using LocumDeck as one of our locums used it. It was easy to see her availability and when bookings are made I get confirmation of the booking and can view them on the calendar too. When invoices are sent, I can see it on the site, and digitally sign the pension form (this is one of the best bits!). It would be good if all locums used it, as then it would be so much easier for me to track my bookings and check their availability without emailing or texting them, waiting for a reply and then emailing back to confirm. It’s a great place for their documents to sit also. I can access it from home or my mobile which is useful as when I am not in surgery is when I usually need a locum!"

Debbie, Practice Manager in St Ives

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