GP locum chambers were the brainchild of NASGP, first conceived in 2002 when a group of 30 NASGP sessional GP group leads from across the UK met at the RCGP head office in London one rainy Saturday, and came up with the model whereby GP locums could work as part of a team.
Locum chambers are small, independent groups of local self-employed locum GPs all working together through a shared management structure to support NHS GP practices to maintain, and in some cases improve, local GP services.
Broadly speaking, locum chambers:
- Provide educational programmes for local GPs (not just their members!), crowdsource local clinical information and spread best practice.
- Employ experienced managers or clerks to take care of all non-clinical aspects of working as a locum GP (e.g. booking, confirming, rates negotiations, SEAs, complaints, cancellations, certificates, usernames/passwords etc), enabling the GPs to focus on providing clinical services.
- Host regular member-only clinical governance meetings to discuss SEAs, complaints, best practice, underperforming practices, clinical cases, rates, strategy etc. And also regular social events for their members.
- Support all aspects of appraisal relating to their members.
- Create an environment that allows their GPs to have a flourishing portfolio career, including also working in salaried posts and as an intermediary position between GP partnerships.
NHS England has realised the full potential of the model in terms of its ability to help support its commissioning agenda, and has released a paper to empower clinical commissioning groups to encourage or host locum GP chambers in their areas.
Locum Chambers Frequently Asked Questions
GP locum chambers is a collaborative model; rather than independent locums competing against each other, locums in chambers work together as a co-operative.
- All locums perform all their work through their chambers, so GP capacity is never an unknown.
- Chambers can 'buffer' their GPs, allocating them to a practice at a time when need is most apparent e.g. Christmas and Easter.
- GP locums naturally avoid working in difficult practices; the chambers infrastructure, and close-working and support from local CCGs and GP federations, can enable chambers locums to much better support failing practices.
Chambers are able to generate income through several mechanisms, either charging their members a percentage of their income from locum work, levying a charge on practices or receive funding from their local CCG or federation.
From this, they then 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, such as Pallant's Pace programme.
Because all chambers locums perform all their locum work through the chambers, their management team act as a feedback conduit from employing practices, enabling all forms of feedback to be given to the respective (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).
Also, many chambers have monthly or bi-monthly internal clinical governance meetings as part of their conditions of membership, where all members meet at a colleagues house to discuss significant events and spread best practice.
Generally speaking, chambers locums continue to be self-employed, but with more organised support from the chambers manager and clinical leads, and can therefore continue to contribute to the NHS pension scheme.
Although chambers tend to name themselves after their local area, where its members meet up for clinical governance meetings, where the members actually work depends much more on where each GP lives.
Depending on which IT system the chambers uses, its members can either crowdsource local practice information on their chambers intranet, or use the NASGP Standardised Practice Induction Pack. By meeting up regularly and greatly reduce the professional isolation otherwise goes with independent locuming.