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Indicative locum rate set at £80 an hour

NHS England has set an indicative rate for GP locum pay at £80 an hour and, in the coming weeks, practices will be asked to submit data on how many times they have paid above this rate.

Providing this information to NHS England will be compulsory as it has been made part of the mandatory e-reporting that all practices have to do.

The data collection will cover the months of July, August and September 2016 and practices will be asked a single question: 'how many times in this period did you pay more than the indicative rate per hour to a locum?'

NHS England used data on standard rates of pay for GP locums to calculate with the 'indicative' hourly figure, GPC sessional subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris revealed last week. Although the figure was billed as an 'indicative maximum rate' by NHS England when the 2016/17 GP contract deal was announced, Dr Norris confirmed in a BMA blog: 'This is not a cap. It is a data collection exercise.'

NHS England has said that it will use the data to map areas where locum demand is particularly high and identify where extra help is needed.

Figures from Medeconomics' annual locum rates survey suggest that many practices may be paying above this amount for locums, with the average hourly rate in England ranging from £75 in South England to £83 in North England. The top rates of pay charged by locums in every area in England exceed £80.

GP leaders have warned that the move could artificially constrain the locum market.

National Association of Sessional GPs chair Dr Richard Fieldhouse said: 'The mere mention of a maximum rate could undoubtedly artificially constrain the locum market: some practices may be prompted to use this indicative rate as a ceiling, some locums will significantly increase their rates to match it, and some GPs will stop work altogether and move to a higher-paying profession.

'Either way, there will be no winners, only losers. At the end of the day, this could just make it even harder for struggling and overworked practices to find decent GP cover for their patients.'

Medeconomics will be publishing the results of this year's annual locum rates survey later this month. Find more advice and information on employing locums here.

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