GPs continue to choose locum careers over salaried and partner roles

GPs are continuing to choose to work as GP locums rather than remain in partner or salaried roles, a survey suggests.

Just over a fifth of GPs who describe themselves as locums said that they were salaried GPs or partners 12 months ago, according to a poll by GPonline and its sister site Medeconomics.

Of all locum GPs responding to the poll, around 11% were partners a year ago, and 10% said they were salaried GPs at that time.

The survey confirms a trend of GPs moving towards locum work in response to growing workload pressures. Many respondents cited stress, poor levels of pay, long hours and bureaucracy as the reason they had given up a permanent post in favour of becoming a locum.

When the same survey was carried out in October last year, one in six GPs who described themselves as locums said they had been partners 12 months previously.

Of the 745 survey respondents who undertake work as locums, 68% said this was their main role, compared with 65% who said locum work was their main role a year ago and 50% when the survey was carried out in 2015.

Locum rates of pay

The findings form part of a Medeconomics/GPonline survey on locum rates, which found that the daily rates charged by locums working directly for practices had increased over the past 12 months. Many locums said they had increased their rates over the past year as a direct result of rising indemnity costs.

Demand for locums’ services also remains high. Of those respondents who were doing locum work 12 months ago, 57% said demand for their services was higher compared with a year ago.

When asked why they had chosen to become a locum many respondents cited flexibility, a better work/life balance, less paperwork and more control over workload.

One respondent said: ‘The stress of partnership meant I had become unwell and my income had fallen more than 30% over four years, while my workload had increased and increased to unmanageable levels.’

Another said: ‘It gives me more flexibility to work part-time. I was working as a part-time partner, which involved more than 40 hours a week.’

One GP said: ‘I enjoy the flexibility and higher pay rates, as well as more clinical work and less paperwork.’

A former salaried GP said: ‘With salaried work the pressures were so high I was ill with stress and off work for a month.’

Some 9% of GPs who undertake locum work said their main role was a GP partner, while 17% said their main role was a salaried GP.

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