Locum GPs need more support and protection, LMCs warn

GP leaders at the England LMCs conference have called on the GPC to formulate a 'blueprint for the future of general practice' that will improve support for sessional GPs.

LMC representatives voted in favour of forming a blueprint that ‘includes a plurality of contractual types’, at the inaugural England LMCs conference in London.

They also demanded that locums are afforded protection against large web-based platforms and locum banks that attempt to impose terms of work and rates of pay on them.

A further part of the motion was approved as a reference, which called on the GPC to lobby NHS England to investigate and invest in locum chambers as a proven GP retention model.

Delegates rejected plans for a ‘locum plus’ model of salaried-style contract that would allow locums to be employed by multiple practices on a rotational basis.

Proposing the motion, Dr Ben Molyneaux – from the GPC sessional subcommittee – called on the conference to ‘look at how we retain and respect our locum workforce’.

He said: ‘General practice is more than partnerships. I've got huge respect for the partners I work with – I've just never wanted to be one.

Support for GP locums

‘It isn't enough for the BMA and LMCs to focus entirely on contracts for partners anymore. We need to set out a blueprint for all types of GPs.’

Birmingham LMC’s Dr Pooja Arora spoke against the parts of the motion calling on the GPC to develop chambers or locum plus contracts.

She raised concerns that forcing structures such as chambers or locum plus contracts on locums would take away the freedoms they are looking for in choosing the role.

‘There are a range of reasons GPs want to work as sessionals – this is not the platform to dictate how these GPs should work,’ she said.

‘If chambers work in one part of the country, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will work somewhere else – it didn’t work in Birmingham. Likewise, locum plus could have same problems.

‘Why force a model on our locums colleagues? It’s just not fair.’

Chair of the GPC committee Dr Zoe Norris said: ‘Our responsibility is to look at all options. Sessionals more and more have portfolio roles and clearly one size does not fit all. What "good" looks like may look different in different areas.’

Dr Greg Place from Nottinghamshire LMC spoke in favour of the locum plus method of working, which was eventually voted against.

He said: ‘We know the locum workforce is highly regarded and we do not want to force work structures on them they do not want .But as a medical profession we have a problem. Medical students are disillusioned. Partners and other doctors are leaving the profession in their 30s.

‘There's a drain and we need to do everything we can to nurture the workforce. This would provide support locally but also support centrally to nurture our very delicate workforce.’

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