Isn’t that always the question when it comes to insurance?  No-one wants to buy insurance, and no-one wants to claim but everyone wants to be sure that, should they have to claim, the policy will cover what they expected it to cover.

Sometimes this means making a choice as to whether to pay extra to include an optional benefit within the policy you’re buying.  Should you cough up for windscreen cover when you take out motor insurance?  What about the legal expenses cover that your home insurance company offers?  Is it worth the extra premium?

When a GP is ill and can’t work, what will the Primary Care Trust pay towards any locum costs that the practice may incur?

The answer to this should be pretty straightforward.  It’s all in the GMS Statement of Financial Entitlements , a 391 page document available at which  says that the PCT will pay eligible practices up to £987.91 for the first 26 weeks of a GP’s absence and half that for the next 26 weeks.

Many practices assume that this is what they would receive and budget accordingly.

Back on the theme of ‘continuity of cover’, what if you have decided you need continuity of cover and you find a cheap locum insurance policy which claims to offer it?  Are all policies the same? Well, as every good shopper knows, buyer beware.  If a policy says it offers continuity of cover, fight your way through the eye-catching headlines, the guff and bluster, and read the small print.  If the ‘continuity’ safeguard applies only if a set of complex and long-winded conditions are satisfied, make sure you understand what those conditions actually mean.  For example, if a policy says that continuity is subject to a ‘claims ratio of x%’ does that mean the policy is likely to pay out or is notlikely to pay out?  

What’s this:  

Staff Costs ...Rent, Service Charges ... Rates & Water  ... Other Premises Expenses  ... Heat, Light and Power ... Printing, Postage and Stationery ... Telephone ... Computer Expenses/ Software Maintenance & Support/Internet Expenses ... Professional Fees ... Insurance premiums ... Equipment Hire and Maintenance ... Laundry and Cleaning ... Bank Charges ... Depreciation ... Bad Debts ... Loan Interest ...

It’s a long list that will look familiar to any dentist running his or her own business.  It’s the costs that have to be met, month in, month out to keep the business going.

Talking to a GP, I asked him how the practice would cope if one of their 5 GP partners was off work ill for a while.

As you’d expect, he said that, for a few weeks, they’d rally round to cover their colleague’s sessions.  In such a large practice, that’s certainly feasible for a period and we talked about how long they’d be able to rally round  and what toll this would have on doctors who were already fully committed.  

At its best, continuity of cover on a locum insurance policy means that, following a claim, the insurer won’t alter the underwriting terms of the policy.  So Dr Bloggs can rest assured that, even though he’s off time and again with a bad back,  his locum insurance will pay out for repeated claims.

So shouldn’t all policies have ‘continuity of cover’ automatically built in?  And, if not, why not?  The financial advisers among you, who may be more used to IP than to locum insurance, may well look askance at the whole topic,  thinking ‘don’t all policies work this way?’. 


Good product.

GP, Leeds

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