GPs choosing locum roles to cap workload, BMA poll reveals

More than three quarters of locum GPs say they have chosen to work in locum roles to have control over their workload, analysis by the BMA suggests.

Dr Zoe Norris: locum roles 'a positive career choice for GPs'
Dr Zoe Norris: locum roles 'a positive career choice for GPs'

WIth growing numbers of GPs opting to work as locums, the BMA findings suggest that many are making the move as a positive career choice, rather than simply because they are unable to secure traditionally more sought-after partnership or salaried roles.

Almost half (46%) of locum GPs describe the role as a positive career choice, with 36% saying salaried roles are too onerous and unrewarding, and more than half (53%) saying partnership roles are too onerous and unrewarding.

Just 2% said they were working as a locum because they couldn't secure a job as a partner, and just 1% because they were unable to find a salaried post.

Read more: Exodus to locum roles must stop, says RCGP

Around half of the 382 locum GPs who responded to a survey question from the BMA said locum work suited their work pattern and gave them more autonomy than partnership or salaried roles.

Across more than 5,000 GPs in all roles in general practice, partnership remains the most popular career option, with 47% saying their preference over the next five years was to work as a partner under the existing independent contractor model.

Around a third (32%) said they would like to work as a partner within an organisation providing GP services 'at scale', while 30% said they would like to be a portfolio GP.

BMA sessional subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris said: 'Choosing a career as a salaried or locum GP is a positive choice for thousands of GPs across England. As this survey shows, many opt for these jobs because they are flexible and for locums offer a degree of control over their own workload. Sessional GPs also said they would consider a wide range of options for the future, including the increasingly popular portfolio GP role. 

'However, we should not be blind to the fact that salaried and locum GPs are on the receiving end of the same pressures that are threatening all of general practice. Many are overworked and operating in an environment with not enough staff or resources. This is bad for patients and demoralising for doctors. We need NHS England and the government to realise that they cannot continue to rely on burnt out grassroots GPs to provide a service that is under threat of collapse.'

GP workforce

Some estimates put the total number of GPs now working as locums as high as 17,000, although many of these may be doctors who also work in permanent roles.

RCGP chair Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard told GPonline earlier this month that the balance of incentives between partnership and locum roles was wrong, with GPs now able to earn more in locum roles and partners facing huge workload pressures.

GPonline reported earlier this year that locums carry out more than a fifth of total workload at one in seven GP practices, and this month revealed that one in six GPs who describe themselves as locums now were partners a year ago.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

The team at Minehead Medical Centre

Somerset GP practice converts to John Lewis-style employee-ownership model

A GP practice in Somerset has become the first in England to operate as a John Lewis-style...

GP consulting room

GPs 'running on empty' as LMC issues third red alert in a month

An LMC has issued its third countywide red alert in four weeks as primary care contends...

Woman holding face in pain

Should GPs treat patients presenting with dental problems?

The MDU's Dr Kathryn Leask considers what GPs should do if a patient presents with...

Conservative Party leadership candidate and foreign secretary Liz Truss

Liz Truss vows to resolve GP pension tax crisis if she becomes prime minister

Liz Truss has affirmed her commitment to resolving the GP pensions crisis but has...

Baby receiving a vaccine in their thigh

JCVI advises changes to routine childhood and HPV immunisation schedules

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended a change...

GP consultation

General practice delivering 'up to double the appointments it is paid for'

General practice in England may be delivering as many as double the number of appointments...