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Are more Locum GPs seeking the security of salaried positions?

3rd September 2020

It was recently reported that in response to the financial uncertainty caused by the current pandemic, as many as 1,000 GPs are actively looking to swap locum positions for the additional security of a salaried role.

Chair of the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP), Dr Richard Fieldhouse, has told the medical press the number of locums – at the newly qualified end in particular – has decreased since March. He did, however, add that bookings for locums had risen in early August although that could simply be to cover holidays given the time of year.

Unsurprisingly, the reason behind the trend is the COVID pandemic.

The need to introduce telephone consultations combined with a drop in appointments and many practitioners’ unwillingness to take leave led to more than 50% of locums reporting a drop in income during the early months of the crisis.

As a result many locums appear to have decided to try and find more secure positions that offer not only a guaranteed income but also the additional protection of sick pay and benefits. The good news for doctors is that there are a large number of salaried positions available which has made the switch much easier for those who have chosen to make the move.

While the numbers involved are significant, the move to salaried positions shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. In a recent survey run by GPonline only 38% of the 585 respondents said they still considered locum positons attractive. In a similar poll run less than 12 months it was more than 50%.

It also appears that the NHS and BMA could also be backing the shift towards salaried roles. This month the NHS called for primary care networks to create and promote more flexible salaried roles to appeal to doctors who would have ordinarily only considered a locum role. The BMA meanwhile has again called for locums to be given more substantial death-in-service benefits.

Claire Farr, a senior member of Rowleys’ specialist medical team, said the changes were understandable but the effects may not yet have been felt locally:

“I think that there’s definitely a change in mind-set with some locums who have seen a significant drop in income and will now consider a salaried role but locally I think practices may be reluctant to commit to taking on more salaried GPs given the reduction in profits many have suffered over the last few months.”

If you are concerned about your GPs seeking an alternative employment status and how to respond if you’re asked or have any other questions related to your practice’s accounts or finances, please call us on 0116 2827000 or email us at post@rowleys.biz and we’ll be happy to help.

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