Exclusive: Locums' pay lags behind GMS rises

GP locum pay across the UK is failing to keep pace with pay rises for GP partners and may have fallen slightly since last year, a GP survey has revealed.

Pay per day ranged from £280 to £690, compared to a range of £300 to £700 reported 12 months ago (GP, 13 January 2006).

More than 400 locums who took part in the latest survey earn £392 a day on average.

Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP), warned that locums may be charging too little.

GMS GP profit per partner for 2005/6 is expected to reach around £120,000, including non-NHS earnings. Dr Fieldhouse said locums should be earning an equivalent amount.

Based on an average of 46 five-day weeks, he said that locums would have to charge just over £500 a day to achieve an equivalent level of earnings.

Locum day rates start at around £300 throughout the UK, the survey shows. The highest rates, of £600 or more per day, were found in England - in London, Yorkshire, Humberside and West Midlands SHAs.

In Scotland, the highest reported rate per day was £450. In Northern Ireland the highest rate was £500 and in Wales £555.

The highest-paid locum in the UK, in the Yorkshire and Humberside area, earns £690 a day without home visits.

The lowest-paid locum, in the South Central SHA area, earns £280 a day including home visits.

‘Locums may be undervaluing themselves, although there may also be market forces coming into play where there is competition for work,' Dr Fieldhouse said. Locums should look at the pay ranges in their area and consider raising their rates if they were towards the lower end, he added. They should also remember to raise their rates during periods of high demand.

Several respondents to the survey reported a lack of available work or short locum shifts of only two or three hours and a lack of developmental support.

Meanwhile, the NASGP and the BMA have jointly developed guidance for locums on how to work out rates of pay. It is available from the NASGP website http://www.nasgp.org.uk/.

By Nick Bostock

nick.bostock@haymarket.com

GP LOCUM PAY:
  • Locum GPs earn up to £690 per day.
  • Lowest day rate in UK is £280.
  • Locum pay is lowest in Northern Ireland where most boards pay up to £350 a day.
  • Highest day rates are in England. Four SHAs pay £600 a day.

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