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03 October 2019
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I've never taken sick leave before, and I need to take leave this week what do I do?

When a GP gets sick, they may need to take sick leave just like our patients do, whether an employee or self-employed worker. However depending on the GP's contract of employment they may or may not receive sick pay, and they may or may not have the responsibility to arrange their own locum cover.

For GMS GPs, the initial seven days of sickness is not covered by GMS and so each GMS GP needs to always have a contingency plan in place with local GPs to enable them to have urgent GP cover for their patients at short notice. Many calls to the ICGP Doctors health programme are about this as GPs find it increasingly difficult to find a locum at short notice, and also for cover during absences for elective hospital procedures.

For GP assistants, some for example, have contracts with their GP employer which do not include the payment of sick pay, as there is no legal requirement for an employer to provide sick pay. GP assistants with GMS lists should be aware that sick pay is only payable when the list size goes above 100. GMS Sick leave payments for all GMS GPs are made to a maximum of one year in a four year rolling period, and this is important when a GP has a critical illness needing extensive treatment over time. Individual cases may need to be discussed with the primary care.

GPs may need to notify others about their work absence, including the other doctors in their practice, their staff, local GPs, out of hours rota, their accountant, the primary care manager, their medicolegal insurance company and professional competence insurance at ICGP.

Further information on these issues are available from the GP representative organisations, and from HSE Primary Care Manager in your region,

For GPs with a GMS contract

Contribution to locum expenses through state contracts

For GP Trainees: contact your Programme Director


For GP Assistants: contact your union