It is a well-known fact that the dependency on locum GPs has been increasing in recent history and the last 12 months has been no different. Three in every five partners say that their practices reliance on locums has risen over the last year, with around one in six sessions are being covered by a locum. One in five practice partners says that more than one quarter of their sessions are being filled by locum GPs which is an astonishing amount.

It is no surprise that there has been a decrease in GP partners over the last twelve months, with a 708 decrease in 2017 and that figure is rising for 2018. In 2017 it was a 3.4% drop which is equivalent to a loss of one GP partner for every ten practices in the UK over a one-year period.

It is no coincidence that there is a decrease in partnerships and an increase in registered locum GPs sessions being covered by non salaried GPs, in fact, 42% of locums were former practice partners. It has been surveyed and found that males GPs are aged 51 on average and female locums 46, this shows that locums on average are experienced GPs who are a vital resource to general practices.

According to Dr Norris: ‘Lack of control over workload and lack of flexibility are the main reasons for GPs choosing to be non saleried. Practices need support to offer greater flexibility, but as a whole, the profession needs an increase in funding and a reduction in workload.’

‘We are all struggling, and I think are past the point where policy-makers should be viewing locums as a problem to be got rid of. That will never happen, and they are an immense, forgotten resource to help support the system.’

‘Whereas traditionally locums have been used to cover sickness or annual leave, now they are plugging recruitment and retention gaps that simply aren’t being filled.’

‘But as locums become an ever-greater part of the workforce, the system is failing to adapt by making sure they are supported with access to information – and the NHS remains bizarrely unable to count the locum workforce accurately. NHS Digital workforce data rely on a snapshot of staff at a point in time and show only around 2,000 locums – far below estimates that suggest there could be as many as 17,000 available for work.’

These are some astonishing figures that the NHS have not yet recorded, there should be an accurate number to determine if it is a viable option to use non salaried GPs as a long term solution to the crisis we have.

What are your thoughts on the article and the healthcare crisis? Let us know in the comments section below.

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