Skills and training for locum GPs

We're very pleased to announce the publication of our 'core competencies' document Locum GPs - the skills we need and how to achieve them.

Yes, without a doubt, although it hasn't yet been incorporated into the GP training curriculum. Training GPs to work as locums is very often overlooked, yet most newly qualified GPs spend a significant time working as GP locums.

In this paper, written with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), we take a look at GP consultation skills, see how these skills may be used differently when locuming, and examine how we can then help GPs to learn those skills.


And in April 2015, the British Journal of General Practice published Views of newly-qualified GPs about their training and preparedness: lessons for extended generalist training, which illustrates both the importance of training GPs to work as locums, and how working as a locum broadens their experience.


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So, who should read it?

Locum GPs

This paper celebrates the importance and skills of locum GPs. Reading it may make you feel better about the job you're already doing and may even give you some ideas on how to further develop your hugely valuable role.

Salaried GPs

Hats off to salaried GPs who take on significantly more practice responsibility than locums, yet have no where near the same level of control as partners. Reading this document may make you see locuming in a different light and give you more confidence to seriously consider it should your current post not be all it was cracked up to be.


There's a lot to locuming that our partner colleagues are often too busy to realise. As a partner reading this document, we hope you'll gain even more insight into what's involved in being a GP locum and hope you'll be able to instigate changes to your practice that will enable locums to work safely and effectively to the full benefit of your patients and their skills.

Registrars, AiTs, ST1/2/3 - you know who you are.

Er, incoming news, guys. You know all that stuff you're being taught about general practice and being a partner and all? Well, the reality is that you're very likely to be locuming for longer than you thought, and actually working as a locum can be pretty tough. Your interface with patients will be quite different too, and if you're serious about being a good GP there's a lot that this document can tell you about working as a GP locum. Even in the very unlikely event that you locum for just a few months, there's no excuse not to be prepared.

Leaders of sessional GP groups and locum chambers

You are the unsung heroes of general practice, providing a leadership role for GPs who otherwise may completely be without any support or structure to their professional lives. We hope this document will help you to distil what you already know about working as a GP locum and pass on to your group.

GP tutors, trainers, course organisers etc

Just because it's not on the curriculum, it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Read this document. Make your own decision.


25% of all GPs work as locums, loads of us are  your members yet there has been very little investment by our profession in the development of anything to make a tangible difference to the daily lives of busy locums trying to provide excellent care to our patients. Please read this document, accept that your respective AiT committee and Sessional GP Committees both made excellent and supportive contributions to the document, endorse the document and work with NASGP to ensure that working as a GP locum becomes as palatable and as acceptable as working as a GP principal.

1 Response

  1. drhreading
    Over the past 6 months I’ve had the amazing experience of being a partner for 14 years and then moving into the “locum world” I don’t mind admitting I’ve found it pretty tough. I am an experienced and confident doctor, so I really cannot imagine how a young, less experienced doctor can cope with this as a working environment and I can see the value of setting out a document such as this to try and help make sure locums are resourced as much as possible. I have been relatively lucky in that the practices I started in have helped me a lot… especially with some of the essentials like IT and setting up nhs mail addresses etc but your document sets all this out very clearly There was only one practice I went to that checked out I would be able to function providing a kind of “tick sheet” and training sessions before I started, others were less organised about it and it often fell to one or two individuals to make sure I could do a surgery OK! I did however encounter situations where rooms were inadequate, even dirty and equipment was not available or faulty I have been very unsure of how “honest” to be with feedback or who to give it to I haven’t really ever been asked for feedback, even after working in one surgery for over 3 months Partners, although often pleasant and kind, appear far too busy to engage with the locum doctors and I beleive it is more common for locums to interact other staff in the surgery than the partners I certainly have relied heavily on reception staff, nurses and the practice managers are key I particularly like your comments about the locum being “a fresh pair of eyes” for a surgery Certainly as a partner I missed out on ever asking locums for their opinions and I would greatly encourage practices to consider this carefully in future I also notice you mention “mentoring” and as a fellow of the RCGP I have already fed back to them that I think the college could provide a system where doctors could be mentored or co-mentor each other therefore avoiding the problems of feeling we are being too honest with those we are working for! Well done NASGP The next step is perhaps to provide a specimen “tick list” for locums to make sure they cover everything before starting in a new place and a “tick list” for practices about what to pay attention to before a locum comes to work for them

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