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Career advice: What does a locum GP career look like?

What is a locum GP and what does the role involve? Roberto Orlandi from MCG Healthcare explains what you need to know about being a locum GP.

A GP talking to a patient
(Photo: FatCamera/Getty Images)

What is a locum GP? If you would have asked me this question 10 years ago, maybe even two years ago, my answers would be very different to what they are today. By definition, a locum GP is a GP who provides temporary assistance to a service (in hours or out of hours).

However, the role is far more diverse than that. Temporary really means anything these days, as it is all based on demand from each individual, and at present, the NHS in England data suggest that we are ~5000 FTE GPs short in the UK. This in turn means the reliance on GP locums is higher now than it has ever been, thus meaning their workload has increased exponentially in the last 10 years.

We have seen locum GPs work in the same surgery for over five years as ‘temporary’ support, but can that really be considered temporary? When a surgery is having to rely on locums throughout the year and not just for sickness, holidays and maternity cover, it can no longer be called temporary support. This is unfortunately something that is becoming more and more prevalent and means that the role of a locum GP is changing.

Anyone can be a locum, whether they are a full-time partner working one extra day a week in out-of-hours, or a full-time locum working five days a week in a surgery replacing a substantive GP. Some locums are stricter with their work schedule and what they will do, while others aren’t. A locum GP is as valuable to the NHS as a partner because without them, the service simply wouldn’t be able to function the way it does.

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There are many reasons that a GP may choose to work in a locum capacity but the two that seem to be the most common are flexibility and the earning potential. A locum GP can earn between 50-60% more than a salaried GP and they can do this whilst choosing when and where they would like to work.

A question I often get asked is ‘do the patients still get the same care from a locum as they would a salaried GP or partner?’ The answer is YES, they do. But this being said if a GP works long term at a surgery, then they can build care plans for patients ensuring continuity of care is sustained for the patient.

Locum GPs’ ability to assist medical services has become invaluable as the NHS faces a great deal of pressure from the backlog. During this time, where healthcare workers are stretched thin, having the option to employ locum GPs to provide support serves as a great deal of help to the NHS workforce trying to keep their heads above water.

As it stands, a traditional locum GP’s working hours are 9:00am to 6:00pm - 15 patients per session, self-generated admin with a share of surgery admin with visits usually being completed by a home visiting service. This day is what 99% of surgeries ask for whether it be remote or in-person.

There are many reasons to want to become a locum GP and it is fascinating to see this unique healthcare role evolve with the times.

MCG Healthcare is recruiting for a number of locum GP roles including:

To find out more about becoming a locum GP, email hello@mcghealthcare.co.uk

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This article was sponsored by MCG Healthcare.

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