There is ‘no requirement’ for GP locums or practices to engage with each other through ICS-approved pools, a BMA subcommittee advised last week.
Dr Paula Wright, a member of the sessional GPs’ subcommittee and an NASGP member, warned: “A unified platform brings the potential for significant distortion of the locum market and control of both terms of engagement and fees.
“A review of these modern working practices and zero-hours workers has spotlighted so-called ‘bogus self-employment’ with the worst of both worlds: no security and no autonomy.”
Flexible pools, also referred to as locum banks, were part of the expectations written into winter access funding for GPs.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of NASGP, said: “Quite rightly, the NHS needs to harness the benefits of the flexible self-employed GP locum workforce. We are a large, highly skilled cohort of experienced GPs working across multiple practices. Many of these sites have suffered from chronic understaffing and may be in special measures.
“On paper, GP locum banks are a potential way of enabling this. But as the BMA quite rightly warns, these banks must not strip GPs of the security and autonomy that are so essential to the thriving GP workforce the NHS so desperately needs, in detriment to these GPs and the practices they’re trying to support.
“In harmony with the finding of the government’s 2017 Taylor Review, NASGP’s LocumDeck – itself adopted by multiple ICSs – supports these principles by enabling locums to discuss their terms and conditions, freely set their own fees and support each other.”