Jury Service for GPs
A partner at a neighbouring practice was recently called for jury service and was surprised to learn that under the new regulations he was not automatically excused. We are a small practice and would find it impossible to manage without a locum. Would NHSE / The ICB be obliged to provide reimbursement for this?
Since April 2004 doctors have no longer been ‘excusable as of right’ from jury service.
The practical and financial implications of this for any GP practice could be considerable and patient care could be impaired as a result.
The SFE does not direct payment for locum cover in these circumstances, but in 15.2 it states in relation to locum payments for maternity, paternity and adoption leave that ‘if an employee or partner who takes any such leave is a performer under a GMS contract, the contractor may need to employ a locum to maintain the level of services that it normally provides. Even if the board is not directed in this SFE to pay for such cover, it may do so as a matter of discretion.’
Since practices have a similar statutory obligation to allow a GP to be absent from the practice for jury service, NHSE may be prepared to make a discretionary payment from ICB administered funds to help ensure the maintenance of patient services. However, in the current financial climate the level of any support is uncertain.
In view of the uncertainty practices may wish to review their partnership contracts and/or consider locum cover insurance to protect themselves in the event of partners being absent for an extended period on jury service.
GPs should check their buildings insurance policy to see if this covers loss of income as a result of jury service. One of our GPs has notified us that they have checked with the underwriters and their cover does include this.
Delaying Jury Service
You may be able to defer jury service if you are called but can only do so once. Requests for deferments should be sent to the Jury Central Summoning Bureau explaining your reasons. You must also list the dates when you will be available in the 12 months after you were supposed to start jury duty.
You can claim for:
- Travel & parking
- Food & drink
- Loss of earnings and other expenses (up to a maximum daily amount)
For more information, do to: www.gov.uk/jury-service