GP locum chambers are 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 a 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 and clinical governance structure to support NHS GP practices and locums to maintain, and in some cases improve, local GP services.
Small but significant, by collectivising administrative work, pastoral care and systems and processes for clinical governance, chambers support and retain flexible GPs, enabling them to become a well-engaged presence in a local health area.
BOB Locum Chambers
Locum Chambers across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West www.boblocumchambers.org.uk
Launching 15th January 2020
A new chambers for locums in North East Essex, run by the NASGP. To come along to an evening event on the 15th January 2020 please sign up here.
Launching 22nd January 2020
A new cluster of locum chambers in the Royal Borough area. Sign up for more information and to come along to an introductory meeting.
Broadly speaking, locum chambers can:
- 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.
How do I fund my chambers?
NASGP's LocumDeck chambers acts as a revenue-generating platform for your local chambers. We collect one payment every month from each of your locum members based on their bookings:
- £x to NASGP as a small 'session management fee'
- y% to your chambers as a 'chambers management fee', for you to run your chambers.
The chambers management fee is completely up to you, and can be from 0% to whatever your chambers needs.
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.
As chambers locums often 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 engagement with locums too.
Also, 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.
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.
Fees paid to your chamber are tax deductible. So long as it is analysed consistently, it doesn’t really matter how it's classified. For the tax return, if income is less than £85k (2019-20) it doesn’t get analysed out anyway; for those needing to show it on their tax return, I’d suggest putting it in 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).
I’m an established GP locum and I already have work in my regular practices which I don’t want to risk losing to other locums
If you have an established relationship with a practice, the chamber will help you maintain that relationship.
- Practices can ‘Favourite’ you and specifically book you.
- Strengthen your security network in your chamber with an established pool of practices and GP locums working together; you have more security in finding alternative bookings if the practice’s requirements change and they no longer need your services - it happens, the flexibility of locuming cuts both ways! And it’s great to have the backup of the chamber management team, and intelligence from your peers, if you find yourself working in a new practice or want to expand your existing network.
- The support you receive through your chambers will give you more free time, or more time to work if you choose.
- Education and appraisal activities tend to take care of themselves when you’re in a chamber - all those group meetings, discussing cases, significant events and educational events - tend to be fertile ground for your appraisal. You may even find you have more time to take on other work in new practices.
- Cross-cover for your practices when you’re absent - and likewise you’ll be cross-covering your locum colleagues’ practices when they’re absent. It’s a collaboration rather than a competition.
I am an established GP locum and I already have work in regular practices. Why should I pay a chamber fee for work at this practice.
In spite of the chamber fee, many locums in chamber when surveyed report that they end up earning more working via the chamber than compared to being a freelance locum, because the wraparound professional and administrative services that the chamber fee enables frees up time and expands your opportunities to earn. Being in a chamber means that most of the day-to-day hassle of finding work, making bookings, managing your admin and setting up CPD and appraisal opportunities is removed for you. You can choose how to use the extra time and energy available to you. Some chamber locums, reassured by the moral support that the chamber brings, feel able to work more sessions and in a wider range of practices. Others find having the reassurance that their locum work is being well taken of in the background means they can focus on developing special clinical interests (all very welcome in a chamber) or even take on non-clinical roles as part of a portfolio career.
Remember that in a LocumDeck chamber, 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.
I’m an established GP locum with work at regular practices. Why should the practices I currently work at pay a booking fee?
The booking fee covers the cost of providing practices with a LocumDeck account through which they can transparently see your real-time bookable availability. The speed and convenience of being able to make an online booking with you in full possession of all the information about your credentials, terms, work schedule and pay rates that you have chosen to show them is game-changing. And practices get other time and cost saving benefits from LocumDeck - managing invoices and pension forms online; posting free job adverts; posting availability requests; access to an online Locum Induction Pack. The only fee the practices are charged for access to all these services is a per session booking fee which is designed to reflect their level of use of the platform. The fee is a fraction of what a practice would be charged to find locums via an agency. And given that a practice could book multiple sessions with you - all on your own terms and according to your own schedule - in one click, they are saving on the administrative costs of arranging work which can involve back and forth communications on agreeing terms and checking compliance documents.