Staffing crisis increasing locum usage

Thursday 25 February 2016

New figures have shown that demand for locum doctors is increasing as many surgeries use them as a solution for staffing problems.

A report released by the research arm of the publishers of Pulse magazine and Nursing in Practice, said that many GP practices are relying on the skills of locum staff to ensure patients can get the standard of care they deserve.

According to the practice managers and GP partners surveyed in the research, nearly half (47 per cent) have increased the amount they use locum doctors, with 16 per cent also making more use of agency nurses.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the British Medical Association's GP committee, echoed this sentiment, saying that more and more GP practices are having to rely on locums because of the workforce crisis in this area. Last year alone, around 600 GP trainee spaces were left unfilled.

However, this marks a positive landscape for locum doctors, and the increased demand for short-term healthcare workers means that it may be worth taking the leap and becoming self-employed.

Becoming a locum doctor allows you to choose your own working hours, which can help you achieve a better work-life balance.

Dr Nagpaul said a large number of GPs are considering retiring or leaving the profession because of the increased workload, and extra stress this brings to their lives. However, with demand for locum GPs increasing, self-employed professionals can have more control over the amount of work they take on, helping them avoid such problems.

Separate research has also revealed that there is an increase in demand for hospital consultants, suggesting that people with skills in this area could also benefit from being self-employed.

A report by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) shows that 679 of 1,558 vacant posts have been left empty because it's a challenge to find people willing to take a permanent place. However, locums can solve this problem by injecting the skills necessary, without the burden of a long-term contract.

Commenting on the issue, an NHS England spokeswoman said GPs are a key part of healthcare and transforming healthcare services in the future. She said the NHS is working to help GPs through the current pressures as well as investing £10 million in ways to further boost the workforce.

It can be difficult to take the leap and leave the security of your job to become a locum doctor but there can be various benefits, including having more control over your income and autonomy in your career.


By Victoria McDonnell

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