Each year Medeconomics assesses the rates locums are paid when booking work directly with practices and through locum agencies.
According to this year’s poll of 448 GPs who undertake locum work, Wales saw the highest increase in the daily rates locums earned from booking work directly with practices, with a 10% increase in the average fees charged compared with last year. However the average daily rate charged by locums in the north of England region fell by 3.4% compared with 12 months ago.
The average daily fees locums received from practices increased by 6.5% in London, by 2.3% in the south of England and by 1% in both the Midlands and east of England and Scotland. There were not enough responses from Northern Ireland this year to assess locum rates in the province.
The average hourly rate that locums charged practices directly rose between 1.2% and 5.2% in the past year, with the exception of Scotland and the Midlands and East of England region, where hourly rates remained the same.
Average locum earnings from agency work also increased in England, with hourly rates going up by between 2.5% and 4.9%. It was not possible to assess agency rates in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland due to low level of responses in these areas.
Despite the rise in average rates this year, only 28% of the locums responding to the survey said that they had increased their fees in the past 12 months. Some 70% said their rates had remained the same, while 2% said they had decreased.
Of those GPs who had increased their rates many said it was a result of rising indemnity costs. One GP said: 'GP locum rates have gone up, but less than the increase in indemnity fees in that time.'
Despite the rising rates, some GPs felt that they were still underpaid for the work they were doing. 'I don't feel the rate represents the value of the work , the volume or the level of risk I deal with,' said one.
Demand for locums also remains high. Of those respondents who were doing locum work 12 months ago, 48% said demand for their services was higher compared with a year ago, the same proportion (48%) said demand was about the same and only 4% said demand was lower. This reflects a GPonline poll earlier this year, where 60% of partners said their practice's reliance on locums had increased in the previous year.
Of those GPs who describe their main role as a locum, some 12% said they were a partner or salaried GP 12 months ago, suggesting that becoming a locum is still a popular career choice for many GPs.
Earlier this year a GPonline poll of 654 GPs found that 44% believed that locum work was the most attractive career option, 36% said being a salaried GP would be their first choice and only 20% selecting partnership as their first choice career option.
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