New Pulse survey finds 67% of partners predict lower locum use over the summer

2nd September 2020 by NASGP

New Pulse survey finds 67% of partners predict lower locum use over the summer

A Pulse survey conducted last June found that 67% of GP partners said they would be offering less locum work over the next few months.

The survey of 378 GP partners, conducted in early June, found that 28% said they would not be offering any locum work for the next few months. A further 23% said they would offer much less, and 16% expected to offer ‘a bit’ less.

As the NASGP also reported, GP locums have been hit hard by sudden cancellations and a short-term fall in demand for GP locums.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, co-founder of the NASGP, told Pulse: ‘We’ve seen a lot of locums become salaried GPs these last few months, so I expect a lot more practices will be planning to spend a lot less on locums going forward because they’ll be paying a lot more on employed salaried GPs.’

The NASGP had picked up on this trend almost as soon as it happened, he explained: ‘Our own surveys and feedback has revealed many locums feeling really hard done by by a few practices who they’d loyally supported for many years, yet cancelled all work going forwards, or some slashing agreed rates, with many locums being surveyed saying that they want more support going forwards.’

Many GP locums expressed frustration that bookings were cancelled at the same time as retired GPs were being recruited back into service, a problem NASGP raised directly with senior NHS figures.

During lockdown, some GP locums went to work for the COVID Clinical Assessment Service (CCAS). CCAS originally also employed nurses and paramedics as call handlers, but last week stopped using allied health professionals on the phones after an audit revealed more than half of calls did not pass safety criteria, Pulse reported.

NASGP continues to campaign for services that support GPs to work flexibly, within their own safe working boundaries, without zero hour contracts.

In May, Pulse covered the NASGP campaign to protect GP locums after reporting some had turned to Universal Credit as sessions were cancelled at short notice.

The NASGP also published financial advice in March from specialist financial advisor Liz Densley for GP locums struggling during lockdown.

Pulse’s survey also reports that 31% of GP partners predict booking ‘about the same’ (22%), ‘a bit more’ (7%) or ‘much more’ (2%) locum work than pre-Covid levels. A small proportion (2%) could not predict how bookings would change at their practice. Some NASGP members have already reported that the trend is easing, with practices now booking shifts for September and October.

Furthemore, the flexibility of portfolio work means many GP locums have been able to work in services such as CCAS, A&E, out of hours and remote provider apps while bookings have taken a temporary hit. Other GP locums have taken salaried roles in practices that they are familiar with. GP workforce statistics, due out in November, will reveal how many new salaried GPs enter the workforce following lockdown.

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