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.
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).