11.1       What is a Practitioner

11.2       Types of Membership

11.3       Group Codes


11.1 What is a Practitioner? 

Membership of the scheme is available to medical, dental and ophthalmic practitioners who are registered on their relevant Health Board performers list. 

General Practitioners (GP's) and NHS dentists and are made up of the following groups:

Types of membership 

11.1.1 Principal Practitioners

A Principal GP is a partner of a practice or in some cases the single handed GP in charge of a practice. Dental and Ophthalmic Practitioners also come under this definition. 

Principal practitioners are classed as self employed persons and are always treated as whole time.

11.1.2 Assistant Practitioners 

An Assistant Practitioner is a salaried employee of the Health Board. They in general perform services at a GP practice. 

Included in this definition are Out of Hours GP's where this is the sole employment and NHS dental trainees. 

GP Assistants and dental trainees' service is always recorded as whole time. When calculating the contribution rates this should be treated as actual not uprated to whole time equivalent.

11.1.3 GP Locums 

Freelance GP Locums became superannuable from 1st April 2001. Existing GP scheme members who undertake GP locum work became superannuable from 1st April 2002. 

Locum work is defined as a period when a GP on the relating medical list deputises for an absent GP but only on a temporary basis.

The reporting of earnings and the calculation of contributions is a self administration process between the GP and Practitioner Services Division (locum Forms A & B). 

Membership can be extended (covered by the scheme) for 3 months from the last day of locum work. However, as soon as this three month period is up PSD must close the contract with the leaving date being the last day of locum work. 

Service is always recorded as whole time. This is similar to the rule which governs bank workers.  

A GP who does locum only is classed as self employed. 

11.1.4 GP Registrars 

Before a doctor can qualify as a GP they must complete a training period (normally a year). They are given the title of GP Registrar during this period.  

Historically this was referred to as a Trainee Assistant Practitioner.  

Such service receives Officer status.

11.1.5 Concurrent practitioner service

Practitioners will during their career accrue other practitioner membership concurrently to their main employment. For instance they might be providing a Family Clinic at a Hospital on behalf of the practice; be providing cover as an OOH GP, be a member of an NHS Board, or have a training position where they are entitled to practitioner membership.


11.2 Types of membership


Officer service

11.2.1 Initial Officer service

After graduating from University the career of a GP will typically start in a hospital environment whilst they follow the medical training programme. This period before becoming a practitioner can sometimes be referred to as initial or pre-practitioner service. 

A dentist in theory should not accrue initial Officer service as they normally join the Scheme as a Vocational Dental Trainee (VDT) for a year as assistant practitioner before becoming a qualified NHS dentist.

11.2.2 Concurrent Officer Service 

On occasions a GP or dentist will accrue Officer service at the same time as they are classed a practitioner. This is normally related to work they undertake in hospitals. For example: a GP working as a clinical assistant or perhaps in a consultancy/ specialist role will be classed as officer in that employment. 

This type of work is generally part-time but earnings up to the whole-time equivalent hours can be superannuable in addition to earnings the individual may have as a practitioner.

11.2.3 Subsequent Officer Service 

Doctors' careers are flexible and on occasion GP's will relinquish their role in favour of a return to Hospital employment. They will then be classed as having Officer status.


 11.3 Group Codes 

The table below details the relevant group codes for employment types. 

Employment Type

 Group Code 

 Principal Practitioner          09
 Dental Practitioner          10
 Assistant Practitioner                16
 GP Locums          16
 GP Registrars          07
 Dental Trainee          17
 Officer          07


Calculation of benefits 

11.3.1 Career Life time earnings (CARE method)

Practitioner's pension benefits are calculated using the CARE method. 

All practitioner earnings are added together throughout the practitioner career and are multiplied with factors to bring the earnings up to current day values. 

If for example a GP's uprated earnings throughout their practitioner service are £2,000,000.00, pension is calculated by multiplying by 1.4% to give £28000 of a pension and lump sum is calculated by multiplying by 4.2% to give £84000 of a lump sum. 

A practitioner can retire on grounds of age (including preserved); ill health, voluntary early retirement with actuarial reduction (including preserved) and enjoys the same scheme benefits as Officer members.

Practitioners cannot retire on grounds of redundancy other than in any Officer employments they may hold. 

11.3.2 Officer Conversion – previous rights 

It is very common that a practitioner will have Officer service in their career. 

The scheme rules cover this in detail and the following conversion of Officer service to practitioner membership are allowed. 

Initial Officer Service  

The rules allow up to 10 years of this type of pre-practitioner service to be converted into practitioner earnings. 

The following equation is used to covert Initial Officer service to practitioner service:

             Practitioner service + Initial Officer service     = factor (increases total uprated earnings)
                              Practitioner service

 e.g.      10 years Principal + 5 Years Initial Officer       = Factor of 1.5
                                    10 years principal

If Initial Officer service is 10 years or more this would result in a separate award if more beneficial.

Concurrent Officer Service 

The rules allow up to 1 year of concurrent earnings to be included in dynamisation. Service is ignored and earnings for related officer employment are added to the practitioner earnings that have been accrued in the same financial year.

Subsequent Officer Service 

The rules allow up to 1 year of subsequent Officer service and earnings to be converted to practitioner service. Service is treated as practitioner service and earnings for related Officer employment are dynamised.

11.3.3 New Pension Flexibilities 

From 1st April 2003 new regulations increased the flexibility in the way practitioner benefits are calculated for both medical and dental practitioners. These flexibilities allowed 

Where applicable the flexibilities apply to benefit calculations for all members who have accrued service after 1st April 2003.  

As GP benefits are based on career pattern, flexibilities can only be applied on a pension event or transfer 

SPPA is required to test the flexibility options to arrive at the most beneficial to the member. The highest benefit in terms of pension and lump sum would be the one paid to the member.


Link to Scottish Government Website