Locum and salaried GPs risk becoming marginalised during the development of new models of care unless greater effort is made to ensure their voices are heard in LMCs, according to GPC sessional subcommittee executive member Dr Vicky Weeks.
The warning comes as the BMA this week updated its Sessional GPs and LMCs guidance, which contains advice on how to build stronger ties between locum and salaried GPs and LMCs.
The guidance says that although sessional GPs constitute an increasingly large segment of the workforce, they are often under-represented in LMCs, with some having ‘virtually no sessional GPs on them at all’.
If left unaddressed, this disparity risks ‘seriously undermining the strength, effectiveness and credibility of many LMCs’ in addition to ‘disenfranchising an ever increasing part of the GP workforce’, it says.
Dr Weeks warned that younger GPs in particular - who often fill sessional roles - could be put off long-term careers in UK general practice if they do not feel they have a stake in how the NHS is restructured.
The BMA guidance advises LMCs to take a number of measures to encourage greater participation from sessional GPs, including approaching primary care organisations and locum chambers to help publicise when their meetings take place.
They could set membership fees could at a lower rate or scrap them completely for sessionals, it suggests.
Dr Weeks said sessionals should also push to become more involved. ‘It’s not just the LMCs going out and finding sessional GPs,’ she told GPonline. ‘Sessional GPs have to flag themselves up as being here and what interests they’ve got to the LMC.’
The working relationship is ‘mutually beneficial’, as sessional GPs’ experience working in many different practices means they can offer advice and opinions on issues that face many GPs across their area. As many also work flexible hours, they are the well-placed to attend meetings.
New models of care
Dr Weeks said: ‘If you want to actually have a say in how you go forward and practice medicine, what services you want to provide, and getting involved in federations and networks, then LMCs are the only way forwards.’
If sessional GPs are not given a voice in LMCs, ‘they will be marginalised’ in new models of care, she added.
‘I can’t stress enough how important it is for sessional GPs to get themselves engaged if they actually want a say in how the NHS and the delivery of GP services is going to be over the next two to three years – not just five years.
‘They’ve got to get in there and they’ve got to be making their views known. It’s so important to make sure that the LMC’s voice reflects what’s happening across the broad spectrum of general practice within an area.’