How LocumDeck’s Instant Book benefits GPs and practices

24th April 2023 by Dr Richard Fieldhouse

How LocumDeck’s Instant Book benefits GPs and practices

Discover how LocumDeck’s Instant Book is stabilising the GP locum market, benefiting both locums and practices. This powerful tool streamlines the booking process, allowing locums to set rates and availability while enabling practices to book them instantly.

Dive into how Instant Book fosters a thriving, efficient, and sustainable GP locum ecosystem.

Our recent analysis of LocumDeck revealed a fascinating trend: GP locums utilising the Instant Book feature earned an average of 12% more for sessions booked using Instant Book than those who booked sessions through traditional means. It’s easy to assume that Instant Book simply inflates locum fees, but a deeper dive into the GP locum market unveils how Instant Book actually levels the playing field for many GP locums.

Typically, a GP practice engages a variety of professional services—medical accountants, legal advice, IT support and more—each setting their own rates and terms. Practices can negotiate, but ultimately, they have limited influence. This autonomy and self-determination foster thriving specialist markets.

However, when it comes to hiring GP locums, practices often attempt to dictate rates and terms, reversing this global norm. This unhealthy dynamic contributes to practices struggling to find GP locums, allowing locum agencies to flourish and gain significant traction.

For a market to succeed, it requires a high number of suppliers and users, minimal congestion, and rapid transactions. The traditional GP locum market relies on existing relationships between GP locums and practice managers, often resulting in slow, manual processes and thin markets. Agencies offer speed but at a premium cost, causing congestion. IT platforms present an alternative, but must satisfy all three criteria: high numbers, minimal congestion, and speed.

The professional service a GP locum provides is their clinical session. With thousands of GP locums and practices available, combined with the advantages of speed, transaction completion should be highly probable. However, this hinges on congestion—are additional steps introduced, or can transactions proceed instantly?

LocumDeck’s Instant Book revolutionises the process by eliminating manual communication and negotiation, streamlining bookings, and reducing congestion. GP locums set their rates and availability, while practices book them instantly without negotiation. This fosters a thriving market that benefits both parties—GP locums set prices agreed upon by practices, and the booking process is swift and efficient.

Feedback from both GPs and practice managers supports our commitment to Instant Book:

Tom Brock-Hastings, a management partner at Frampton & Stonehouse Practice Group, Gloucestershire, said: “LocumDeck has totally transformed our process for securing ad-hoc GP cover. Overnight we moved from a chaotic email round robin, over to a slick and simple process, with a much better cover rate for shifts needed.”

Dr Shanil Shivji, a GP in Essex, told us: “The Instant Book feature within LocumDeck makes arranging sessions easy. Whilst getting things set up initially does take a bit of work, this eventually pays off and the return on this initial time investment is impressive.” 

Dr Francesca Cappelluto, a GP in London, told us: “I put my sessions on LocumDeck in mid-November and within a day, I was already booked up for the next six weeks until the Christmas holidays. It’s a huge weight off my mind.” 

Lesley Munro-Faure, a managing partner at Unity Health York, said: “You can see the availability of GPs, their documents are all loaded on the site and you can book instantly – it takes minutes to do. There are also no expensive locum agency fees to pay – just the GP’s actual payment. It’s quick and hassle-free.”

Sue, a practice manager in Portsmouth, told us: “LocumDeck does everything you want it to do in an instant. You are notified the moment a GP locum adds availability, which is just fantastic. I spend a lot of time just chasing agencies to see if they have availability, so to be notified the moment availability is advertised is a new concept, and very welcome. I have no hesitation in recommending LocumDeck – it has already eased my workload.”

Instant Book doesn’t make GP locums more expensive; rather, it dismantles the barriers they face in the conventional GP locum market. By establishing a robust market that prioritises speed and minimises congestion, Instant Book serves both GPs and practices, forging a sustainable and dynamic GP locum market.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse has been a GP locum for more than 20 years and worked in over 100 different GP practices. He set up NASGP in 1997 and founded the first GP Locum Chambers. He is an active voice in GP politics. He has lobbied for GP locums’ access to the NHS pension scheme and won seats on both the RCGP council and the BMA’s GP committee. His work on behalf of GP locums led to him being named Doctor of the Year 1999. As our Chairman, Richard develops our important partnerships and drives NASGP strategy as well as contributing knowledge to our resources on a regular basis.

Rates FAQs

How much do GP locums earn?

How do you negotiate pay as a GP locum? We’ve created a calculator to help you arrive at a ballpark figure taking into account covering your professional and personal running costs.

But in addition to your circumstances, there may be local factors at play which could influence your locum pay environment. If you’re new to an area or new to GP locuming, how do you work out what rates to charge?

Simply asking around is not option, with anti-competition laws being quite clear about the illegality of discussing rates with fellow GP locums.

Local factors that may affect how much GP locums charge

  • Supply of locums – the more locums, the more potential for downward pressure on rates. We hear this from members in the more vibrant towns and cities, perhaps with a local GP training scheme that then attracts and retains lots of GPs to start out as locums.
  • Presence of a dominant practice-facing online platform or agency. We hear from members that having one of these in your area can sometimes skew the pay and conditions of local independent locums in a downwards direction.

Sessional GP locum fees on LocumDeck

With LocumDeck’s Instant Book, the whole point is that you carefully pre-define your booking parameters for each practice, including the pay rate, in advance, and then publish your terms and availability and wait for bookings. So you can make calculated judgements about the pay you would like to receive and use Instant Book to do the talking for you. Bear in mind too that the Instant Book process itself will add to your ‘value’, as practices are being offered a speedy, transparent way of booking a GP – a task that might otherwise cost them significant workload and resources.

Discussing rates with colleagues: a guided approach

When it comes to setting your locum rates, it’s natural to seek advice and insights from your peers. However, it’s essential to navigate these discussions carefully to comply with competition law as outlined by the British Medical Association (BMA) and UK government regulations.

What’s permissible

According to the BMA’s updated guidance from last October, GP locums are allowed to discuss the rates they charge an existing employer for their services. This means it’s acceptable to share information in the context of what you personally charge for your work at a specific location. For example, you might say:

  • “I work for a surgery in [X location] and I charge [£Y amount] per session.”

This approach allows for transparent sharing of individual experiences without influencing the decisions of others.

What to avoid

However, there are clear boundaries on what constitutes anti-competitive behaviour. Specifically, locums must not suggest or imply that others should adhere to a minimum rate. For instance, you should not say:

  • “I work for [£Y amount] per session in [X area], and you or nobody else should work for any less than that amount.”

Such statements could be interpreted as an attempt to fix prices or influence the market unfairly, which is against competition law.

Government guidance

The UK Government’s website further emphasizes that discussing future pricing plans with other locums regarding what you’re going to charge practices is not permitted. This includes any form of agreement or understanding about setting a minimum or standard rate for services. For more details, please refer to the official guidance on anticompetitive activity.

Navigating the conversation

We encourage our locums to engage in open and honest discussions about their professional experiences, including the challenges and strategies around setting rates. However, it’s crucial to ensure these conversations do not cross into prohibited territory as defined by competition law. By focusing on personal experiences without prescribing actions for others, we can maintain a supportive community that respects legal guidelines.

For more information on setting your rates and ensuring compliance with competition laws, please refer to the BMA and UK Government resources. Following the above guidelines, GP locums can discuss rates on the NASGP Facebook Group.

Work out how much to charge for GP locum sessions on LocumDeck

  • Add a local practice to your LocumDeck address book where you haven’t recently worked.
  • Set a sessional/hourly rate for that practice at the level that you’d like to be booked at.
  • Activate that practice for Instant Book.
  • Add ‘Committed Availability’ to your LocumDeck calendar as far in advance as possible.
  • As and when practices Instant Book you, you’ll soon be able to use your judgement if your rates are too high or two low, and you’ll be able to adjust your rates accordingly.

If you run this experiment for a range of practices and add availability over a range of periods in advance, you’ll soon start to build a picture of the local factors that may affect your rate decisions.

Our experience of using Instant Book is that once practices have used it, they return to it as their favoured booking method, further cementing its value to them. It is a win-win tool – locums have more control over their work and pay, whilst the practice saves significant resources in finding and directly booking locums.

Tips to finding jobs as a GP locum on LocumDeck

How should private work be charged?

Salaried GP

This will be stated in the written contract. The private fee can either be entirely subsumed within the normal, regular work of the salaried GP, or there could be a provision for private work to be undertaken over and above the their usual work, stating how much of the fee they receive (bearing in mind the practice’s overheads.

Locum GPs

For locum GPs, there is no issue as to whether or not a freelance GP can perform private work in a GP practice.

The practice and locum will need to agree beforehand whether their normal clinical caseload will contain private as well as NHS patients, with adequate time given for the private work in line with what other GPs in the practice would expect.

The practice and locum will also need to agree between them whether private work is charged at the same rate as NHS work.

Model locum Terms and Conditions template

If you’re doing any sort of locum work as part of your portfolio career, you’ll definitely need your own personalised Terms and Conditions to help protect both you and the practice you’re working for.

NASGP’s model T&Cs has been specifically developed for NASGP members by a specialist employment law firm. It allows GP locums to not only fully adopt all its recommendations, but also to add any necessary clauses and tailor it to suit each locum’s personal needs.

You can now set your T&Cs online in NASGP’s LocumDeck.

LocumDeck’s T&Cs generator allows you to set:

  • Your own cancellation sliding scale from 0 to 100% of your booked fee for 0 to 28 days in advance.
  • Your 14.38% employer’s pension contributions
  • Legal employment status
  • Tax status, IR35 etc
  • Duties (on-call, triage etc)
  • Private fees (HGV medical etc)
  • Cremation fees
  • Payment terms (14 days? 28 days?)
  • Plus much more.

As an NASGP member, go to your T&Cs generator, choose your settings and then save. You’ll then be given a unique link, “View my TCs” which will automatically be added to your automated invoices, confirmation emails and session request emails, or you can paste the link into your own GP locum website.

As an added bonus, GP locums can update their T&Cs as often as they like on LocumDeck. Each change is saved in an archive, accessible by practices, for extra confidence.

In our experience, if private patients are seen within the usual agreed hours then the locum would not expect to be paid any extra. But if seen outside the usual agreed hours, the locum would expect to be paid the full private fee, with any practice overheads being offset by the additional service being offered by the locum. It makes the paperwork easier too.

 

 

Are GP locums entitled to statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance?

If you are a self employed locum you can not claim Statutory Maternity pay but, if you’re eligible, you can claim standard-rate Maternity Allowance. You can claim as soon as you’ve been pregnant for 26 weeks, and payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.

Fill out the simple application form on the gov.uk website.

See also

More on paternity and maternity

Are GP locums entitled to holiday pay?

If you’re a GP locum, you are self-employed and therefore are responsible for covering your own holiday and sickness pay. And maternity/paternity pay, redundancy (there will be times when you’re unemployed), tax, national insurance, travel – pretty much everything.

But that’s the choice you make when you’re a GP locum. That’s why you have to make sure that the rates you charge – and the insurance policies you purchase – cover these circumstances. There is a common misunderstanding that GP partners get holiday pay – they don’t. They instead pay a practice manager to spread their ‘drawings’ over the year.

Of course, as a GP locum, you could get holiday/sickness pay if you negotiated it into your terms and conditions. For that matter, you could even demand a case of wine for every week you work, but no practice in their right mind would want to take you on.

But if you’re doing a long-term locum e.g. for maternity leave, then it would be entirely reasonable for you to try and negotiate paid leave into your Terms and Conditions (though beware that the ‘counter-bid’ from the practice would probably be a reduced daily/weekly rate – as the other party, it’s entirely up to you what you agree to).

It’s all down to what you can negotiate. No harm in trying.

Read our FAQ for more: Am I entitled to sick pay?

What is NASGP’s ‘locum rates calculator’?

Complete NASGP’s locum rates calculator to help you work out your baseline hourly or sessional locum rate. Once you’ve done this, you can then tailor the rate according to your experience, skills and different practices you work in.

VIEW LOCUM RATES CALCULATOR

Two main factors influence the rates you should charge GP practices as a GP locum: what seems fair, given the costs you incur, and the market rate for someone with your experience, providing the service you offer. All these things affect how much you can earn as a GP locum.

Our locum rates calculator covers the first of these, taking into account all the expenses you have to pay – such as professional memberships, NHS appraisal, and accountancy and tax advice.

The second factor – market rate – is more difficult to define. The BMA used to publish suggested rates, but no longer does this due to legal concerns about anti-competitive behaviour (see below).

Other factors affect rates too. These could include skills and experience, how much notice the GP locum gets before the practice books them, and local supply and demand. You’ll probably need to weigh up many influences when deciding your rate.

Join NASGP’s free three-month trial for news and advice on GP locum work.

How our locum rate calculator works

Read our full article for advice on how to decide your rates.

If it seems too difficult to balance all these factors – and you can’t ask other GP locums, given the legal difficulties of discussing rates with colleagues – you could base your rates on what you’d expect to earn for the same workload in a fairly paid salaried post. Include an allowance for your professional and personal running costs, and for leave (annual, sick and study) and this should help you arrive at a ballpark sessional or hourly rate. This is basically how our locum rates calculator works.

Should GP locums charge by the hour or by the session?

Usually it is a matter of personal preference whether you charge per session or per hour.

As a guide, 80% of sessions on LocumDeck are defined as ‘sessions’ rather than by the hour.

There is one situation on LocumDeck where it is definitely preferable to use a sessional rate which is if you are setting an All day session type and you are structuring this with morning and afternoon clinics and a break in the middle. In this case it is best to think of your “All day” rate so you are not charging the practice for your middle of the day break.

Related content

"I love getting an email to say 'a new GP locum has linked with your practice', especially when the offer of sessions is just what I’d been needing and it’s just dropped into my lap! It’s great to have everything in one place and be able to download documents so easily. LocumDeck makes the terms and conditions of each locum really clear, and I’ve built up a really good amount of offers from different GPs. It’s easy to keep track of invoices and pension forms, and it’s great that it’s free for practices to use too."

Jennie Dock, Practice Manager, Hedge End Medical Centre, Southampton, Hampshire

See the full list of features within our NASGP membership plans

Membership

Rates FAQs

How much do GP locums earn?

How do you negotiate pay as a GP locum? We’ve created a calculator to help you arrive at a ballpark figure taking into account covering your professional and personal running costs.

But in addition to your circumstances, there may be local factors at play which could influence your locum pay environment. If you’re new to an area or new to GP locuming, how do you work out what rates to charge?

Simply asking around is not option, with anti-competition laws being quite clear about the illegality of discussing rates with fellow GP locums.

Local factors that may affect how much GP locums charge

  • Supply of locums – the more locums, the more potential for downward pressure on rates. We hear this from members in the more vibrant towns and cities, perhaps with a local GP training scheme that then attracts and retains lots of GPs to start out as locums.
  • Presence of a dominant practice-facing online platform or agency. We hear from members that having one of these in your area can sometimes skew the pay and conditions of local independent locums in a downwards direction.

Sessional GP locum fees on LocumDeck

With LocumDeck’s Instant Book, the whole point is that you carefully pre-define your booking parameters for each practice, including the pay rate, in advance, and then publish your terms and availability and wait for bookings. So you can make calculated judgements about the pay you would like to receive and use Instant Book to do the talking for you. Bear in mind too that the Instant Book process itself will add to your ‘value’, as practices are being offered a speedy, transparent way of booking a GP – a task that might otherwise cost them significant workload and resources.

Discussing rates with colleagues: a guided approach

When it comes to setting your locum rates, it’s natural to seek advice and insights from your peers. However, it’s essential to navigate these discussions carefully to comply with competition law as outlined by the British Medical Association (BMA) and UK government regulations.

What’s permissible

According to the BMA’s updated guidance from last October, GP locums are allowed to discuss the rates they charge an existing employer for their services. This means it’s acceptable to share information in the context of what you personally charge for your work at a specific location. For example, you might say:

  • “I work for a surgery in [X location] and I charge [£Y amount] per session.”

This approach allows for transparent sharing of individual experiences without influencing the decisions of others.

What to avoid

However, there are clear boundaries on what constitutes anti-competitive behaviour. Specifically, locums must not suggest or imply that others should adhere to a minimum rate. For instance, you should not say:

  • “I work for [£Y amount] per session in [X area], and you or nobody else should work for any less than that amount.”

Such statements could be interpreted as an attempt to fix prices or influence the market unfairly, which is against competition law.

Government guidance

The UK Government’s website further emphasizes that discussing future pricing plans with other locums regarding what you’re going to charge practices is not permitted. This includes any form of agreement or understanding about setting a minimum or standard rate for services. For more details, please refer to the official guidance on anticompetitive activity.

Navigating the conversation

We encourage our locums to engage in open and honest discussions about their professional experiences, including the challenges and strategies around setting rates. However, it’s crucial to ensure these conversations do not cross into prohibited territory as defined by competition law. By focusing on personal experiences without prescribing actions for others, we can maintain a supportive community that respects legal guidelines.

For more information on setting your rates and ensuring compliance with competition laws, please refer to the BMA and UK Government resources. Following the above guidelines, GP locums can discuss rates on the NASGP Facebook Group.

Work out how much to charge for GP locum sessions on LocumDeck

  • Add a local practice to your LocumDeck address book where you haven’t recently worked.
  • Set a sessional/hourly rate for that practice at the level that you’d like to be booked at.
  • Activate that practice for Instant Book.
  • Add ‘Committed Availability’ to your LocumDeck calendar as far in advance as possible.
  • As and when practices Instant Book you, you’ll soon be able to use your judgement if your rates are too high or two low, and you’ll be able to adjust your rates accordingly.

If you run this experiment for a range of practices and add availability over a range of periods in advance, you’ll soon start to build a picture of the local factors that may affect your rate decisions.

Our experience of using Instant Book is that once practices have used it, they return to it as their favoured booking method, further cementing its value to them. It is a win-win tool – locums have more control over their work and pay, whilst the practice saves significant resources in finding and directly booking locums.

Tips to finding jobs as a GP locum on LocumDeck

How should private work be charged?

Salaried GP

This will be stated in the written contract. The private fee can either be entirely subsumed within the normal, regular work of the salaried GP, or there could be a provision for private work to be undertaken over and above the their usual work, stating how much of the fee they receive (bearing in mind the practice’s overheads.

Locum GPs

For locum GPs, there is no issue as to whether or not a freelance GP can perform private work in a GP practice.

The practice and locum will need to agree beforehand whether their normal clinical caseload will contain private as well as NHS patients, with adequate time given for the private work in line with what other GPs in the practice would expect.

The practice and locum will also need to agree between them whether private work is charged at the same rate as NHS work.

Model locum Terms and Conditions template

If you’re doing any sort of locum work as part of your portfolio career, you’ll definitely need your own personalised Terms and Conditions to help protect both you and the practice you’re working for.

NASGP’s model T&Cs has been specifically developed for NASGP members by a specialist employment law firm. It allows GP locums to not only fully adopt all its recommendations, but also to add any necessary clauses and tailor it to suit each locum’s personal needs.

You can now set your T&Cs online in NASGP’s LocumDeck.

LocumDeck’s T&Cs generator allows you to set:

  • Your own cancellation sliding scale from 0 to 100% of your booked fee for 0 to 28 days in advance.
  • Your 14.38% employer’s pension contributions
  • Legal employment status
  • Tax status, IR35 etc
  • Duties (on-call, triage etc)
  • Private fees (HGV medical etc)
  • Cremation fees
  • Payment terms (14 days? 28 days?)
  • Plus much more.

As an NASGP member, go to your T&Cs generator, choose your settings and then save. You’ll then be given a unique link, “View my TCs” which will automatically be added to your automated invoices, confirmation emails and session request emails, or you can paste the link into your own GP locum website.

As an added bonus, GP locums can update their T&Cs as often as they like on LocumDeck. Each change is saved in an archive, accessible by practices, for extra confidence.

In our experience, if private patients are seen within the usual agreed hours then the locum would not expect to be paid any extra. But if seen outside the usual agreed hours, the locum would expect to be paid the full private fee, with any practice overheads being offset by the additional service being offered by the locum. It makes the paperwork easier too.

 

 

Are GP locums entitled to statutory maternity pay or maternity allowance?

If you are a self employed locum you can not claim Statutory Maternity pay but, if you’re eligible, you can claim standard-rate Maternity Allowance. You can claim as soon as you’ve been pregnant for 26 weeks, and payments can start 11 weeks before your baby is due.

Fill out the simple application form on the gov.uk website.

See also

More on paternity and maternity

Are GP locums entitled to holiday pay?

If you’re a GP locum, you are self-employed and therefore are responsible for covering your own holiday and sickness pay. And maternity/paternity pay, redundancy (there will be times when you’re unemployed), tax, national insurance, travel – pretty much everything.

But that’s the choice you make when you’re a GP locum. That’s why you have to make sure that the rates you charge – and the insurance policies you purchase – cover these circumstances. There is a common misunderstanding that GP partners get holiday pay – they don’t. They instead pay a practice manager to spread their ‘drawings’ over the year.

Of course, as a GP locum, you could get holiday/sickness pay if you negotiated it into your terms and conditions. For that matter, you could even demand a case of wine for every week you work, but no practice in their right mind would want to take you on.

But if you’re doing a long-term locum e.g. for maternity leave, then it would be entirely reasonable for you to try and negotiate paid leave into your Terms and Conditions (though beware that the ‘counter-bid’ from the practice would probably be a reduced daily/weekly rate – as the other party, it’s entirely up to you what you agree to).

It’s all down to what you can negotiate. No harm in trying.

Read our FAQ for more: Am I entitled to sick pay?

What is NASGP’s ‘locum rates calculator’?

Complete NASGP’s locum rates calculator to help you work out your baseline hourly or sessional locum rate. Once you’ve done this, you can then tailor the rate according to your experience, skills and different practices you work in.

VIEW LOCUM RATES CALCULATOR

Two main factors influence the rates you should charge GP practices as a GP locum: what seems fair, given the costs you incur, and the market rate for someone with your experience, providing the service you offer. All these things affect how much you can earn as a GP locum.

Our locum rates calculator covers the first of these, taking into account all the expenses you have to pay – such as professional memberships, NHS appraisal, and accountancy and tax advice.

The second factor – market rate – is more difficult to define. The BMA used to publish suggested rates, but no longer does this due to legal concerns about anti-competitive behaviour (see below).

Other factors affect rates too. These could include skills and experience, how much notice the GP locum gets before the practice books them, and local supply and demand. You’ll probably need to weigh up many influences when deciding your rate.

Join NASGP’s free three-month trial for news and advice on GP locum work.

How our locum rate calculator works

Read our full article for advice on how to decide your rates.

If it seems too difficult to balance all these factors – and you can’t ask other GP locums, given the legal difficulties of discussing rates with colleagues – you could base your rates on what you’d expect to earn for the same workload in a fairly paid salaried post. Include an allowance for your professional and personal running costs, and for leave (annual, sick and study) and this should help you arrive at a ballpark sessional or hourly rate. This is basically how our locum rates calculator works.

Should GP locums charge by the hour or by the session?

Usually it is a matter of personal preference whether you charge per session or per hour.

As a guide, 80% of sessions on LocumDeck are defined as ‘sessions’ rather than by the hour.

There is one situation on LocumDeck where it is definitely preferable to use a sessional rate which is if you are setting an All day session type and you are structuring this with morning and afternoon clinics and a break in the middle. In this case it is best to think of your “All day” rate so you are not charging the practice for your middle of the day break.

Related content

"LocumDeck is so good and so intuitive that I am lost for words and utterly filled with glee.

It can send an email confirming the sessions that are booked and creates and emails invoices direct to the practice for you. These contain links to your beautifully laid out ‘credentials’ page with all your relevant documents, and a model contract that is all ready for you to accept or edit.

It automatically produces and sends the locum form A, and will produce locum form B. It also acts as the calendar... And it all happens automatically. It is really less than a minute to invoice and do the pension forms, with everything calculated perfectly."

Dr Annette Steele, GP

See the full list of features within our NASGP membership plans

Membership