The NHS Services Business Authority has, under the current circumstances, decided to review and update its rules around GP locums in relation to pension work – here’s what you need to know
The previous 10-week window for this work has now been removed, due to COVID-19, to give GP locums more time to complete their forms. This is important for GP practices, as they may be more likely than usual to use locums to fill in for permanent staff who are off sick or overworked, or simply because they need more hands on deck.
The GP SOLO form
The 2020/21 SOLO form is now available on the ‘Member Hub’ section of the NHS Services Business Authority website within the ‘Information for Practitioner. Locum, & non-GP’. A copy of the freelance GP locums form and validating Form A can also be found here.
The ‘10-week window’, and validating Form A
Although the forms and guidance state that GP locum work that is more than 10 weeks old cannot be ‘pensioned’, this rule is being temporarily removed during the current pandemic to give GP locums more time to complete their forms. The removal of the ’10-week window’ takes effect from 1 April 2020 until further notice. This means that, for example, a freelance GP locum can declare work performed in April 2020 on their August 2020 Form B subject to the Form A being validated at the time; NHS England/PCSE and Local Health Boards in Wales have been made aware of this.
In addition, during the current pandemic there is no need for the commissioning practice to enter the ‘practice stamp’ at Part 2 of Form A so long as the name of the practice is entered, and the form is signed and dated; a digital/electronic signature is acceptable.
With effect from 1 April 2020, where a freelance GP locum has overpaid their monthly NHS pension scheme contributions they will not be reimbursed if the amount is less than £1.00. Similarly, if they have underpaid an amount of less than £1.00 they will not be required to pay the shortfall.
GPs returning to NHS employment
You can also find guidance on the NHS Services Business Authority website regarding easements to the suspension and abatement rules where a person, including a GP, has retired, is in receipt of their NHS pension, and has been asked to return to work. You can access the guidance and a Q&A for employees for further information on this.