‘Becoming a GP locum’ (PDF)

28th January 2022 by NASGP

‘Becoming a GP locum’ (PDF)

The National Association for Sessional GPs (NASGP) works closely with vocational training schemes, and has dedicated staff who liaise with local Programme Directors to ensure that wherever possible, doctors at the end of their GP training get some insight into the work of a GP locum. In this guide we share the knowledge we’ve gained.

One thing we have learned is how important it is to have networks of other like-minded GPs to meet up with regularly; something that is so often missed when working as an isolated independent GP locum.

While this packed guide will equip you with all you need to know to get started as a locum, our advice is to meet up as soon as possible with other local locums so that you can share in their wisdom too.

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How to get a DBS check as a GP locum, and other advice on compliance

Can I work as a GP locum if my Performers List (NPL) status is out of date?

Yes. The PCSE website states ” [As long as it can be ascertained via HEE or GMC website that the GP has completed their training]…there should be no reason why the trainee should not be permitted to practise independently whilst the administrative change in status is undertaken.”

How do I get a DBS check?

The enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check (previously known as the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB)) can be requested by a GP practice to help assure them that an independent contractor – in this case, a GP locum – does not have a criminal record that would otherwise bar them from working as a GP in their practice.

Haven’t GP locums already had an enhanced DBS check?

Yes. All UK NHS Performers Lists require enhanced DBS checks; for GP locums. A GP locum’s registration on an NHS Performers List is proof of having had an enhanced DBS check.

Once on the Performers List, there is no requirement for a GP locum to have further DBS checks for the Performers List, as this is part of Performers List monitoring.

What level of DBS check does a GP locum need?

GP locums need to have an ‘enhanced’ DBS check, which is what you had when you joined the Performers List. This level of disclosure will also perform checks against both the Adult & Child barred list.

How can a GP locum get a DBS check for themselves?

If the practice engaging is insistent on you having had a more recent DBS check than the one you had for your Performers List (and NASGP finds this is often the case), NASGP has worked with cbscreening.co.uk, a DBS Registered Body, so that it is able to provide practices and GP locums with the DBS check they require. They are able to offer an easy online process to complete and submit your application. NASGP receives no monetary reward for this.

How much goes a DBS check cost a GP locum?

The enhanced level DBS is charged at £55.60 inc VAT.

How long does it take for a GP locum to get a DBS check?

The processing times for enhanced level checks vary, however, CBS average around 1 week or less to complete the enhanced level check.

To request a DBS check, please contact the CBS Key Account Manager, Cerys Conway, using this form.


cbs logo for dbs check for gp locums


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Once a GP locum completes an enhanced DBS check for one GP practice, can the DBS be used at others?

Yes. As a GP locum you can apply for the DBS Update Service within 30 days of your certificate having been issued, and then use this service for anywhere else they work.

Do GP locums need a DBS check if they’re on the Update Service?

No, GP locums are not likely to need to do another DBS check, assuming the one they subscribed to is the enhanced level with checks against both barred lists.

What does the CQC say about GP locums and enhanced DBS checks?

The CQC’s answer is clear that GP practices may use Performers List checks rather than additional DBS checks.

In their ‘GP mythbuster 2: Who should have a disclosure and barring service (DBS) check?’, the CQC says: “GPs should have had criminal records checks completed as part of their Performers List checks. In some cases, practices may use these checks rather than obtaining an additional DBS check when the GP begins working for the practice. If so the practice should be able to demonstrate they have suitable assurance from NHS England that an appropriate check has been completed.”

Related advice on CQC guidelines for GP locums: CQC adds advice for practices engaging locum GPs

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How do I get on the Performers List?

In order to work as  GP in a UK region/country, you need to be on its national Performers List (NPL), and so to get on one or more of these lists, you need to go through a three-step process for each area.

1 Join the GMC’s GP register

If you are applying to work as a GP (general practitioner or family physician) in the UK, as well as being licensed by the GMC, you’ll also need to be on the GMC’s GP Register.

2 Join one of the four UK Performers Lists

If you you’re not already working, state your “intent to work” on your Performers List application, outlining roughly how many sessions a week you plan to work from a particular date.

Wales

England

Northern Ireland

Scotland

From 1 June 2016 there has been a Scotland-wide standardised application process. GPs still apply to the relevant local health board (HB), but entry to one HB list also includes you on all other HB lists, so you can work across Scotland.

3 Join the NHS appraisal process

Your Area Team will assign you to a ‘designated body’, who’ll oversee your appraisal and subsequent revalidation.

Do I need to prove my Hepatitis B status?

Yes. It’s now a requirement of the Care Quality Commission CQC that every member of staff working in a GP practice has an up-to-date Hepatitis B status. The MPS have prepared a summary of why this is needed, as part of the CQC’s Cleanliness and infection control (Outcome 8, Regulation 12) “People are cared for in a clean environment, and are protected from acquiring infections”.

If you’re a chambers locum or are employed as an agency locum, they’ll no doubt otherwise notify every practice on your behalf. Otherwise it’s a sign of a well organised locum to provide this in advance of working.

If you’re employed by a practice as a salaried GP, you’ll be entitled to free immunisation status checks and boosters if they’re a good employer. As a locum, unless you can persuade a friendly practice, you’ll have to arrange this yourself with your own GP as a private service.

Added to this, the Green Book states:

Healthcare workers in the UK and overseas (including students and trainees): all healthcare workers who may have direct contact with patients’ blood, blood-stained body fluids or tissues, require vaccination. This includes any staff who are at risk of injury from blood contaminated sharp instruments, or of being deliberately injured or bitten by patients.

As a GP, if you’re exposed to continuing risk of infection, you should have a single booster dose of vaccine, once only, around five years after primary immunisation. Measurement of anti-HBs levels is not required either before or after this dose.

Do I need to register under the Data Protection Act?

You might do. As a GP locum you hold all sorts of information – names and addresses of practices; other GPs; colleagues; educational centres etc.

What do you do with this data – do you market yourself? Is it just for invoices? Do you give your data to other GPs or practices?

It is possible that, as a small business, you may have to register under the Data Protection Act.

Whether you need to all depends on what you use your data for and, needless to say, isn’t straight forward. Fortunately, the Information Commissioner’s Office website has a series of simple questions to ask and, depending on your answers, will tell you whether you need to register or not (and what can happen if you don’t!).

See also

Information Commissioner’s Office

Is the Oliver McGowan training mandatory for GPs?

The Oliver McGowan Mandatory Training on Learning Disability and Autism is a standardised NHS training introduced under the 2022 Health and Care Act. It is named after Oliver McGowan, a man who had mild learning disability and autism whose death at 18 was ruled avoidable by an independent review.

GP learning disability training

There are no adult safeguarding standards for GPs under the Health and Social Care Act and the CQC does not have a list of mandatory training for members of the GP practice team.

However, contractors must ensure that staff are adequately trained in several topics including safeguarding adults and children.

GP locums may therefore benefit from meeting high standards for training including e.g. the Oliver McGowan training.

The BMA recommends that practices should ensure that they are not putting sessional GPs under pressure to duplicate training. For example if the GP can demonstrate that the content of the Oliver McGowan training has already been covered by past courses, then practices are recommended to accept that.

However, contractors must ensure that all staff, including locums, are adequately trained, so GP locums may benefit from meeting high standards for training including e.g. the Oliver McGowan training.

Recent articles on starting out as a GP locum

"...the NASGP LocumDeck service makes my running things as a self employed GP almost effortless - I don't think I would want to work without it. Invoicing is streamlined and the website is very user-friendly. After a sometimes busy week at work the last thing you want is to spend hours on business admin - LocumDeck is a real timesaver."

Dr James O’Mahony, GP

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