NHSE’s #GPforwardview head in sand on locum workforce

27th April 2016 by NASGP

NHSE’s #GPforwardview head in sand on locum workforce

It’s ironic that in NHS England’s new plan to “stabilise and transform general practice” (General Practice Forward View, April 2016), the first mention of GP locums is ‘excluding locums’, and is in the context of GP workforce numbers.

The plan, “backed by a multi-billion pound investment”, and developed in partnership with the RCGP, lacks any real acknowledgement of the contribution of the estimated 17,000 GPs, one in four of the GP workforce, working as locums.

So what is their plan regarding GP locums, many of whom have made the positive choice to work as locum GPs? It’s no less than “…to improve the relative attractiveness of partner and salaried positions…”; and the plan goes on to clarify “…to create an alternative to day-by-day or week-by-week locuming for those…who need more flexibility.”

It’s actually bewildering what the ‘plan’ lacks for this 25% of the GP workforce, who work across multiple settings, often at short notice, sometimes in over-stretched and even desperate practices. For example, where’s the plan for:

Instead, proposals mentioned in the plan include the setting of indicative rates and benefits that will come with working ‘at scale’ in much larger practices.

Without doubt, practices are struggling and we desperately do need more partners and more salaried GPs in well-supported GP practices. But just ignoring the issues faced by locum GPs and implying they are part of the problem rather than part of the solution, is just burying our heads in the sand. It’s a step backwards and a missed opportunity.

"I started using LocumDeck as one of our locums used it. It was easy to see her availability and when bookings are made I get confirmation of the booking and can view them on the calendar too. When invoices are sent, I can see it on the site, and digitally sign the pension form (this is one of the best bits!). It would be good if all locums used it, as then it would be so much easier for me to track my bookings and check their availability without emailing or texting them, waiting for a reply and then emailing back to confirm. It’s a great place for their documents to sit also. I can access it from home or my mobile which is useful as when I am not in surgery is when I usually need a locum!"

Debbie, Practice Manager in St Ives

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