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GP Contract Changes - 2017


Sickness Cover Reimbursment for GPs

The new GP contract which was agreed in February included major changes around sickness cover reimbursement for GPs, impacting all practices covered by GMS and PMS contracts with NHS England. In May, these contract changes were also confirmed for practices in Scotland and Wales, backdated to 1 April 2017.

How this will work

From 1 April, sickness cover reimbursement became a practice entitlement, rather than a discretionary payment. The qualifying criteria based on list size was removed. GPs within the practice can now be used to cover sickness, mirroring existing maternity payments. There will be no medical exclusion criteria for this sickness reimbursement. Payments will be available after two weeks of a GP being absent from the practice due to sick leave.

Payment amount

The maximum amount payable for sickness cover has been uplifted to £1,734.18 per week. Payments will be made for up to one year. For the first 26 weeks this will be in full, then halved for the remaining 26 weeks. The BMA have indicated that this will be paid monthly in line with current arrangements and that any delays should be raised with the practice's LMC.

What is not covered

Reimbursement will not cover non-sickness related GP absence, such as jury service, suspension or compassionate leave. Locum GPs are not covered. Other people who would not be covered include nurses, pharmacists, Practice Managers, plus other clinical and support staff. The practice would need to fund sick pay arrangements here.

Payment shortfall

It is likely that the weekly GP sick pay costs to the practice will be higher than £1,734.18, for all GPs working more than two days per week. GP Partners would be expected to cover any shortfall. This is likely to be around £1,416 per week, for a full time GP. Based on a one year payment of 26 weeks at full pay and 26 weeks at half pay, the shortfall could be £96,174.

Existing locum insurance

The sickness cover reimbursement cover for GPs will not provide the full level of benefits associated with comprehensive locum insurance. Insurance can be adapted to suit the specific needs of each practice, taking into consideration GP contract changes. The reduction in locum insurance costs may allow for cover to be broadened across the practice, without increasing premiums.

Why Wesleyan?

Wesleyan has been providing financial guidance to the medical profession for over 175 years. A mutual organisation with award winning financial strength means there are no shareholders. This is combined with insights you won't find anywhere else.

We have Financial Consultants who work exclusively with GPs and their practices, which is further enhanced through our Advisory Board, which includes eminent members of the profession.

Practice Protector Plus

Wesleyan's Practice Protector Plus is designed to provide peace of mind to practices when it is needed most. It isdesigned to help cover the costs of hiring a locum GP, employ temporary staff when key individuals are unable to work, or provide sick pay benefits for employees.

In 2016, Wesleyan paid out £3.1 million in claims for Practice Protector Plus. 99% of all new claims in 2016 were paid.

"The new GP contract offers important and significant improvements to the contract (e.g. expenses, pay uplift, additional funding to cover population growth etc.) The changes will provide some much needed stability and respite for GP practices by reducing bureaucracy and providing financial relief in some key areas.

Removing the discretionary element for reimbursement to the sickness and maternity leave processes will help practices financially, but as with any contract changes it's essential to speak to your financial adviser to ensure you have the right levels of cover in place."

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, Wesleyan Junior Advisory Board Chair and UK Policy Lead: Education, Training andWorkforce, General Practitioners Committee, British Medical Association.


If you would like to discuss any aspect of your finances with a Financial Consultant, call us today on 0800 980 1276 or email practicereview@wesleyan.co.uk, quoting ref. 45958.

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