In spite of the chamber fee, many locums in chamber report that they earn more working via chambers compared to being a freelance locum, because the wraparound professional and administrative services of the chambers frees up time and expands your opportunities to earn. Being in a chamber means that most of the day-to-day hassles of finding work, making bookings, managing your admin and setting up CPD and appraisal opportunities are removed. You can choose how to use the extra time and energy available to you. Some chambers locums, reassured by the support of chambers, feel able to work more sessions in a wider range of practices. Others focus on developing special clinical interests (all very welcome in chambers) or take on non-clinical roles as part of a portfolio career.
In NASGP Locum Chambers, your pay rates for locum work are your business, set entirely by you to reflect what you see as your value to practices and to cover your needs.
If you have an established relationship with a practice, your chambers will help you maintain that relationship. Practices can ‘Favourite’ you and specifically book you.
A new benefit to your regular practice of working with you is that you now have chambers colleagues to cover you in the event of any last minute absences. And likewise, you can cross-cover your locum colleagues’ practices when they’re absent. It’s a collaboration rather than a competition.
Fees paid to your chamber are tax deductible. Your accountant will be able to give you personalised advice. Generally, the suggestion would be to show the fee on your tax return as either ‘other office costs’ or ‘admin support’ rather than ‘professional subs’ (which normally relates to membership of a professional body, rather than buying a specific service). So long as it is analysed consistently, it doesn’t really matter how it’s classified on your tax return.
GP locums can work either as a self-employed individual or through their own limited company.
Chambers have a budget to employ dedicated staff to organise in-house training – such as BLS or safeguarding – or regular programmes of evening education, open to all local GPs.
As chambers locums perform all their locum work through the chambers, their management team act as a feedback conduit from employing practices, including the dreaded “We no longer want to book Dr X again” – as an independent locum, Dr X would be none the wiser, but in chambers they have the benefit of learning from this sort of event. Often the practice that initiates this type of feedback learns something constructive about how to improve their practice systems too.
Many chambers have monthly or bi-monthly internal clinical governance meetings as part of their conditions of membership, where all members meet up to discuss significant events and spread best practice.
A GP locum chambers is a partnership of GP locums, all working together to pool their professional resources to provide support and a clinical governance framework for their GP locum work.
Once a chambers is properly up and running, working as a GP locum outside the chambers partnership therefore undermines your chambers quite significantly. But whilst the chambers is getting up and going – and especially during Covid – members could get GP locum work outside the chambers if really necessary. Wherever possible, the locum should ask their Chambers Manager to liaise with the practice to get any work put through the chambers.
Of course, out-of-hours, appraisals, salaried work etc all have their own clinical governance and support networks, so that won’t present an issue with your chamber colleagues – that can all be performed outside the chambers.