GP locums have been ‘sucked up’ by private sector healthcare providers as the Covid-19 pandemic triggered a sharp fall in NHS income, GP Online reports.
NASGP chair Dr Richard Fieldhouse told GP Online that private firms had been able to ‘suck up’ locums during the pandemic because of a lack of work. He explained the potential fallout from this for the NHS.
‘These services will be much better staffed, meaning that private services will become cheaper for patients to use. Patients have also got used to off-practice services, although I don’t think that is many patients’ preferred choice at the minute. This will lead to more patients using services such as Babylon Health,’ Dr Fieldhouse said.
In a sign of ‘green shoots’, NASGP’s booking system, LocumDeck, saw GP locum session bookings up 40% between August and September.
Still, Dr Fieldhouse added, financial security was a ‘key factor’ in ensuring that locums remained working in NHS positions. More needs to be done to convince GP locums to work in some NHS services, he said.
‘Some locums have had a really bad experience working for Covid Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS). There’s been frustration around a lack of confirmation of sessions and being put on the wrong payroll,’ he added.
‘It’s also about feeling that they are needed. Locums have to be treated in a similar fashion to permanent practice staff, but they’ve never felt more isolated. There needs to be a bit more unity.’
GPs working for the CCAS claim they have been facing incorrect, delayed or ‘complete non-payment’ for their work on the service, Pulse reported last month.