Welsh GPs were told they will lose state indemnity for locum work unless they joined new ‘staffing banks’, Pulse reported last week.
GP leaders warn that GPs in banks will lose the power to set their own rates and terms. They warn that this may become a death knell for both flexible working, and the retention of GPs in the workforce.
In December 2020, GP locums in Wales were told that to maintain access to state indemnity, they would have to join a new staffing bank, ‘Locum Hub Wales’. Since 2019, all GPs in England and Wales who provide NHS services have been automatically covered by state indemnity schemes.
Last month, the BMA’s General Practitioner Committee (GPC) for Wales warned the Welsh Government in a letter last month that it has not been consulted about Locum Hub Wales, and expressed ‘strong concerns’.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of the NASGP, said: “Although we completely understand that there needs to be better coordination and integration of GP locums into local healthcare systems, this must not be mistaken for a top-down, quick-fix implementation of compulsory systems without consultation. This approach only serves to disenfranchise those involved, leading to instability and long term recruitment and retention issues.
“At the NASGP, we have taken the opposite approach: placing the healthcare professionals front and centre in any local plans. We build systems around them that they want to use, and give GPs the autonomy to use their skills in a way that best serves their community.
“This action in Wales reflects a worrying growth in these types of banks, which has led to an influx of inquiries into NASGP from GP locums about setting up or joining local locum chambers. Chambers are a tried-and-tested way to book and retain GPs locally, stabilise the GP workforce, and recruit more GPs into salaried posts and partnerships in time.”