Understanding Locum Insurance and Sickness Absence Funding

When a member of your practice is absent, it can be stressful and expensive. Especially if they are away for a prolonged period of time. In these situations, a significant strain is put on the rest of your practice or organisation, and this can sometimes reduce the level of care you are giving to your patients. 

In some cases, not having enough staff on hand to support the day-to-day running of operations can cause other individuals to burn out and get sick, which leads to further illnesses and absences. 

One of the best ways to avoid this cycle is to make sure you have appropriate locum insurance and sickness absence funding, so that your practice is able to cover the increased cost of working without your full team. 

What is a Locum?   

A locum, or locum tenens, is someone who temporarily fulfils the duties of another.The term is especially used for physicians but is sometimes used in other professions. This individual will step in when a hospital, practice or other medical organisation is short-staffed. 

Many of these locums will be provided through private agencies, but they will have specific agreements in place with the NHS and will still be governed by the same regulatory bodies as other doctors who have full time positions. 

Why Do I Need Locum Insurance? 

Doctors and other individuals in the medical profession are highly skilled and therefore difficult to replace. As such, you will need to hire a qualified locum who can diligently take on the role of the absent employee. Locum insurance packages can differ depending on your provider, but the most common features are: 

  • Cover the cost of hiring a locum due to sickness absence
  • Temporarily replace key staff members
  • Providesick pay to key employees who are absent

The majority of staff absences are unavoidable. Therefore, having locum insurance is necessary for protecting your practice and your patients. By covering a range of different types of absences, you can continue to offer quality care no matter what happens. 

What Does Locum Insurance Cover? 

Locum insurance is designed to cover you against the increased cost of operating as a result of a staff absence. It is also meant to support the ongoing delivery of quality services to your patients while members of your team are not present. 

Making a claim under your insurance policy can cover you for the costs of calling in a locum and providing sickness pay. It is designed to cover a range of different medical practices, including GPs, hospitals, vets, dentists and opticians, as well as pharmacists, osteopaths and chiropractors. 

Locum insurance can cover a range of different absence types, from sickness to personal accident and bereavement. We are seeing increasingly more stress, anxiety and mental health related illnesses in the NHS and private sector today too, and policies may be able to cover these absences to lighten the load on your practice’s staff. 

What If I Don’t Have Locum Insurance? 

Most medical practicesare busy places where handling patientsschedules and general tasks on a normal day can be stressful. However, with the loss of important resources such as medical staff, it can be difficult and leave you unable to provide your service to your patients. 

This can naturally result in a reduction of standards, or increase the risk of mistakes being made. Both will have a negative consequence on everyone involved. With a locum insurance policy designed to suit your needs, you can ensure that your practice can continue operating as quickly as possible in the event of staff absences. 

Important Points to Consider 

When choosing your policy, consider how your practice copes with staff absences. Some might be able to handle more strain than others, while many practices across the country will simply be unable to cope with the same workload and will need to resort to patient appointment rescheduling. 

It is possible to tailor your policy to suit your needs, meaning you can take out cover from the first day of any absences, or choose a deferment type policy which means you will be covered only after a period of 1 or 2 weeks, for example. Depending on what you need, your policy, and how much it costs, can be tailored to suit your needs better. 

Our expert advisers at Locum Insurance can help you choose the most suitable policy for your practice. Get in touch and we’ll help you find a policy that will let you keep offering the standard of services your patients deserve, no matter what happens.

Pension seminars

Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert fame has described 2020 as a ‘savings horribillis’ and it is hard to argue! A major high street bank has cut its main savings rate by 0.5% with cash savings rates at record lows.  Most people’s average savings earnings are now around 0.4%!

Often people are unwilling to invest cash savings yet are happy to invest in pension. This is despite many of the underlying assets and risks can be similar. There seems to be an acceptance that pension ‘has’ to be invested but savings don’t?

There still remains a great deal of confusion with investors in regard to pensions and what options are available with their pension, on retirement, in regard to income and lump sum. The danger of pension freedoms is that many people are considering cashing in pensions, paying large amounts of tax and then putting that money in a bank when savings rates are at record lows!

For this reason Approachable Finance will be running some free, no obligation Retirement Seminars at our offices at 6.30pm on Tuesday 31st March and Thursday 23rd April. This is a perfect opportunity for anyone to come along in a group environment and get some information on retirement and savings planning. We look forward to seeing you and if it is of interest please RSVP as places are limited.

Flexiable access to your pension

A common enquiry over the last few years is a request for us to ‘sign a form’ to cash in or transfer a pension in its entirety into a bank account.

Often, we are contacted by people who simply do not understand that there are often better ways of taking pension. Whether it be using ‘guarantees’ associated with their pension that they were not aware or exploring options such as buying an annuity or flexible drawdown.

Whilst it may appear like the easy option of cashing in your pension, you have to consider that a full encashment will often mean a large ‘emergency tax’ bill of at least 20% of the fund value (after tax free cash).  Often the cashed in pension will sit in a bank account earning little or no interest. Not to mention the ‘opportunity cost’ of reducing the figure that gains interest by 20% paid out in tax.

If your pension is in a ‘pot’ which is invested on the stock market, it usually means it can be switched into a ‘Flexible Access’ or ‘Drawdown Pension’.  This means that the pension becomes flexible, meaning it can provide an income, or lump sum, or both. It is also accessible for the term of the pension and doesn’t tie money up like an annuity.

It is always recommended that at the point of retirement, it is worth speaking to a good independent financial advisor about your options.

New Year New Protection

A new year often means that you are setting yourself goals to achieve in the coming year and in financial planning it is important that your family is looked after if anything should happen to you. If you are in a couple and have kids, the focus should be on whether both incomes would still be required if either party was to pass away or become seriously ill?

All ‘protection planning’ should be bespoke to an individual’s circumstances. The three main covers are life and/or critical illness that tend to pay a tax-free lump sum and income protection that pays out an income if you cannot work due to accident or illness.  A general rule of thumb is to take out life and/or critical illness cover for any mortgages you may have, to make sure your house is paid for. However often this is insufficient in itself as it does not take into account how the running costs are to be met by continuing to live there.

It is also important to make sure any pensions have a completed ‘Nomination of Beneficiaries Form’ so that benefits are paid to the correct person on death. As a general rule all of the above should be covered off within a Will.

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About Approachable Finance

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We are specialists in providing independent financial and insurance advice for Medical Professionals and Practices across the UK.

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