GP locums made 67% more ‘Instant’ bookings in September than August, NASGP’s detailed analytics revealed last week, and bookings leapt 300% year on year.
Hesitancy about face-to-face GP appointments appears to have vanished now as patients queue for support with a range of non-Covid-19 concerns.
Last month NASGP also saw more than double the number of GP locums join and invoice for work through the platform, compared with August 2020. The independent locum booking platform gained its 2,000th practice last month.
Demand was high in 2020 – GP locums on LocumDeck broke records time and again last winter and spring as they racked up hours of bookings for sessions. For example in November 2020, LocumDeck saw bookings double, year on year.
But now the booster campaign is live and many people have returned to the office, GPs are under pressure around the country.
Dr Richard Fieldhouse, GP locum and chair of NASGP, said: “At the beginning of the pandemic, it was widely predicted that GP workload would be overwhelmed with sick patients. But thanks to the first lockdown this was largely averted, with many practices cancelling booked locum sessions at the last minute.
“Thanks to efforts across the world to rapidly roll out a vaccine programme, the second unpredicted (atleast, unplanned) event in the GP workforce occurred – the surge in requests for GP appointments needing to catch up on up to two years’ worth of ailments.
“When it first launched in 2016, LocumDeck was quickly adopted by practices and locums alike, and there has been a steady growth in locum work booked through the platform, but nothing to match the surge in volume we are witnessing at the moment.
“The end of the summer holidays as many locums will know is traditionally a very quiet time for bookings, which suggests this pattern is set to continue throughout the winter.
“As always, our advice to locums when presented with such demand is to always plan in enough free time to take a rest. Otherwise, the tendency is risk burnout. This time we are in for a real marathon, this is not a sprint.”
The NASGP advises any GPs experiencing burnout or mental health crisis to contact NHS Practitioner Health.
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