The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up a lot of questions and uncertainties for many healthcare workers recently – including Sessional GPs. Concerns around death in service, holiday leave and sick pay, including when required to self-isolate, are all issues that the SGPC have been working on tirelessly on your behalf.
We have had almost daily communication with the Scottish Government on this and I am pleased to say we have reached an agreement on contractual arrangements that can provide Sessional GPs with assurance on these issues. We think this is an important step in ensuring that Sessional GPs receive fair and equal treatment.
All GPs who chose to take up an offer of employment from their NHS board based on this contract commit to and will be guaranteed a minimum of one shift per week. Every post will be pensionable, with employees being entered into the NHS pension scheme (unless you choose to opt out, are ineligible to join or have retained contractor status) where you will be entitled to receive death in service benefits.
We know that entitlement to death in service benefit is of great importance to Sessional GPs providing frontline care in this emergency and is understandably seen as an issue of fairness and equity. We are pleased to have been able to negotiate a contractual arrangement which provides this whilst retaining a minimum commitment and the necessary flexibility which we hope will mean that it is attractive to many Sessional GPs in Scotland.
Further information on the death in service benefits associated with the NHS pensions scheme and how individuals can calculate what would be provided can be found here.
We would like to point out that in addition to this salaried contract which has been negotiated, the Cabinet Secretary has recently made a separate announcement regarding death in service benefit which we have been advised will apply to all Sessional GPs. We have not yet seen the necessary detail to be able to give assurance on that as a reliable route to death in service provision for all Sessional GPs.
These new contractual arrangements will also ensure fair holiday and sick pay for all sessional GPs, which has previously been an issue. This has been agreed nationally – so all health boards will now appoint under this model – between the BMA and the Scottish Government and is based on the model terms that already exist in Scotland.
This has been a long process but I hope now that we have reached this agreement with the Scottish Government it will provide a mechanism for many of you who continue to work throughout this pandemic to be reassured that some of the risk at least has been addressed.
I want to finish up by thanking you all for the outstanding work you are doing at a time of great uncertainty and worry. Many of you have stepped forward and taken on frontline roles in the Community Assessment Centres and Triage Hubs and contributed to GP OOHs as well as supporting in hours General Practice. I have witnessed incredible teamwork and camaraderie between colleagues who are working hard to help each other get through these unprecedented times. Please just remember also while you are looking out for your colleagues and family members – don’t forget yourselves and your own wellbeing and consider the need for adequate periods of rest away from work. This situation is, if not quite a marathon, at least a middle-distance race as opposed to a sprint!
The BMA offers a 24/7 free and confidential helpline for any doctor who may need it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a BMA member, you can still call for advice. The number is 0330 123 1245.
If you want to speak to someone with regards to career or employment advice, visit our website and you can get in touch with an employment advisor in your area.
Patricia Moultrie, deputy chair of SGPC
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