The Sessional GPs committee and GPC Wales mandates all further changes to the All Wales Locum Register and Locum Hub Wales must get their sign-off after GPs from across the UK voted to protect GP locums from its model.
In Wales, state-backed indemnity cover applies to locum work added to the Locum Hub Wales system.
Welsh GPs used this year’s conference to warn colleagues across the UK about the dangers of locum banks.
Dr Phil Cox, a GP and vice chair of Morgannwg LMC, raised concerns that GPs in the future may not be able to show they were covered, Pulse reported: ‘I’ve been inundated with concerns from colleagues regarding indemnity changes. From the lack of consultation to the lack of clarity regarding when the changes take effect – and the consequences of administration errors having potentially financially crippling implications.’
He added: ‘GPs may be required to prove the shift is covered by the indemnity scheme years in the future and have to trust a clunky website where users are unable to download a record of shifts entered for their own records.
‘An administrative error for a GP, when entering those shifts, one IT error for the website…could leave a GP without indemnity cover for a potentially ruinous medico-legal case.’
The NASGP has been reporting on and campaigning on this issue for two years, to date. The Welsh Government first introduced a locum register in 2019. 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’. But last March Welsh GPs were told they would lose state indemnity for locum work unless they joined new ‘staffing banks’.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chair of the NASGP, said: ‘This is a significant statement from LMCs and GPC Wales to highlight the damage that could be done by the Locum Hub Wales model. We should be supporting GP locums, but this model makes their working lives much more difficult.
‘This also seems like a missed opportunity. If GP locums had been properly consulted, the idea of bringing locums together in a supportive hub to improve learning across the system about workforce gaps and how best to use flexible GPs could have had potential to improve general practice in Wales for all GPs and patients. Instead, we appear to have a top-down bureaucratic and burdensome IT system, being imposed under the threat of withdrawal of state-backed indemnity for non-compliance.
‘We can do better. GPs would benefit far better from a network of peer-led support groups like GP locum chambers that we know have an impact on engagement and morale.’