The new contract makes GP sickness cover reimbursement a practice entitlement in England, as opposed to the discretionary payment it currently is. And there is also an increase to the amount payable to £1,734.18 a week.
It also removes a number of barriers to practices claiming reimbursement, including a qualifying criteria based on list size, which only allowed practices to claim reimbursement when the remaining GPs were left with more than 2,600 patients each.
The agreement, which GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul has hailed as ‘one of the most important gains’ in the entire contract deal, also removes the requirement for the money to be spent on locums, so practices will be able to use their own GPs to cover absences. There will be no ‘medical exclusion criteria’.
Dr Nagpaul told Pulse the deal would mean many practices no longer need any locum insurance cover at all.
He said: ’Most practices are incurring thousands of pounds on locum insurance to cover for sickness, which on the basis of this agreement will – for large numbers of GPs – no longer be needed, or they can significantly reduce their insurance cover.’
Practices will be reimbursed to cover GP sickness – including salaried doctors – for up to a year (first six months in full, then up to half the amount), the GPC said.
The deal has also secured improvements to maternity payments, which will no longer be on a pro-rata basis. Practices will now be able to submit an invoice, with either the full amount or the maximum payable being reimbursed.