Under proposals announced earlier this year, NHS England would set an indicative rate that locums could charge practices for their services. GPs would be expected to inform NHS England each time they paid over these rates. These proposals follow a cap introduced last year on the rates paid to hospital doctors.
Dr Faisel Baig, a member of the BMA’s sessional GP committee, said: 'The locum cap hasn’t worked in secondary care, it won’t work in primary care.
'These proposals will only worsen the workforce crisis we are currently seeing in general practice. Secondary care trusts are having to fiddle expenses and downgrade services in order to cope with locum caps. That is unethical and we do not want that to happen in primary care.'
Locum GP fees
Several locum GPs told the LMCs conference 2016 that they varied the rates they charged practices depending on the work they were expected to do. They pointed out that a cap would force them to do substantially different workloads for the same amount of money.
Dr Greg Place, a member of Nottinghamshire LMC, spoke against rejecting the government’s proposals outright, saying: 'As GPs we know we need to have painful discussions. I absolutely fully support locums but we need to have a discussion over the problem that some locums are earning more than salaried and principal GPs for less work.'
Analysis by GPOnline last year found that locum rates had risen 6% in the previous year, while partner income had fallen by 25% between 2005/6 and 2012/13. Practices are increasingly reliant on locum cover, but a BMA poll this year found that almost nine in 10 practices struggle to find cover.
Photo: JH Lancy