How the 2015-16 Contract affects Sessional GPs
2015-16 changes to the GP contract do not just impact on GP contractors – they affect salaried and locum GPs too.
All GPs should read the guidance on the contract changes as a whole, but below are four of the main aspects of the agreement that apply to sessional GPs along with an explanation of their impact.
Key relevant changes
Named GP for all patients
Building on the current requirement for patients aged 75 and over, by 31 March 2016 practices will need to include on their website a reference to the fact that all patients have been allocated a named GP.
This requirement is not restricted just to contractor GPs; salaried GPs can be named GPs too. This might make sense, for example, where a salaried GP is the patient’s regular GP, the patient therefore already identifying with them as their “named GP”. There should, however, be discussion and mutual agreement between you as a salaried GP and the practice before taking on this role.
In terms of what taking on the role means in practice, it will largely be a role of oversight, with the requirements largely being introduced to reassure patients. The named GP will not, for example, take on vicarious responsibility for the work of other doctors or 24-hour responsibility for the patient.
Locum GPs cannot be identified as named GPs as they are not linked with one practice in the same way as salaried and contractor GPs.
Maternity and Paternity cover
Current ambiguities in the rules for paying practices to cover maternity, paternity and adoption leave have been removed from April 2015, meaning that these payments are no longer discretionary.
As well as providing greater financial certainty for practices, this will also provide more assurance to locums engaged to provide this cover; both you as a locum and the practice will be much clearer on how much funding is available for the cover and the timescales over which it will be provided. This lessens the likelihood of practices being forced to stop engaging a locum due to financial uncertainty or arbitrary decisions of NHS England Area Teams.
Publication of earnings
Practices are required by 31 March 2016 to publish mean net earnings relating to the GMS contract for GPs in their practice.
The published figure will be calculated based on the earnings of contractor GPs, salaried GPs and locum GPs who have worked in the practice for over 6 months. There is no requirement to publish individual named incomes but practices will need to say how many full-time and part-time GPs work in the practice.
We are aware of the possibility of patients viewing the net mean figure on their practice website and making the assumption that this applies to all GPs working in the practice. For this reason we have advised practices to make it clear on their websites that the figure is an average and the earnings of individual GPs could be higher or lower than the published figure.
We would recommend that salaried GPs discuss with your practice how the practice is planning for its implementation, including how your income will contribute to the published figure.
As part of the 2014-2015 contract agreement, it was agreed that seniority payments to contractors would be phased out over six years, ending completely in 2020. The mechanism for achieving this has been clarified further as part of the 2015-2016 changes.
The funding previously allocated to seniority payments is being transferred to the global sum, meaning that it is being allocated to all practices rather than paid in respect of individual contractors based on their years of experience. Practices can choose to spend this funding as they see fit, and it has been argued that allocating this funding to general practice as a whole rather than to individual contractors is more equitable for all GPs.