The New Locum Pay “Cap” - 3 things Locum GPs need to know.
By Dr Surina Chibber
An ‘indicative rate’ for locum GPs has been set by NHSE at a rate of £80.01 per hour. According to the NHS Employer statement this rate is not a maximum rate above which locums can charge, but it represents an amount above which practices need to submit a record to NHS England.
This will mean that, for the first time ever GP Practices have to report their locum spend to NHS England.
MyLocumManager contacted NHS England and asked them why they were introducing this cap and what they wanted the data for. A spokesman for NHS England responded saying: “practice reporting of the maximum indicative pay rate is to get a handle on what is actually going on in practices and gauge the scale of this. We want to get an idea of the amounts being spent on locums and what is being paid.”
NHSE say they intend to use this information to map out areas of high locum demand, or areas where locums are particularly needed.
3 key things locum GPs should know:
1. Indicative rate and locum fees
The £80.01 per hour rate is ‘indicative’ This does not represent a maximum rate that locums or agencies can charge. Therefore sessional GPs charging above this rate do not need to alter their fees.
2. Retrospective Data Collection
NHSE will be collecting this data retrospectively for June-September. Practices must submit this data as part of their contractual obligation.
3. Autonomy and Choice
As a sessional GP you are a independent practitioner. You are free to charge what you feel is appropriate. Your rate is an agreement between you and your practice. You do not need to change your fee in response to the indicative rate.
The introduction of the indicative rate is causing lot of uncertainty amongst locum GPs. We are all aware how hospital rate caps had a detrimental affect on our secondary care colleagues and how this has left many hospitals unable to cover shifts.
The real cost of a pay cap
This latest move by NHSE sees this indicative rate being railroaded through unilaterally, without agreement from the profession.
Many feel this is another example of NHSE lack of priority in tackling the real issues within General Practice. For example, why not focus on capping the sky high cost of medical indemnity which has a direct correlation on locum pay? Why not look at the reasons why practices are struggling to recruit doctors and cannot retain permanent staff. Why not accept that the lack of funding in General Practice is the real problem? Trying to divert attention to locum pay rates will do nothing to alleviate increasing practice closures or reduce the unsustainable workload that GPs face.
As the real problems within General Practice continue to be ignored and the GP workforce continues to rapidly decline, GPs are fast becoming a rare commodity that soon NHSE won’t be able to find, whatever price they may want to pay or whatever rate they may choose to set.