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First steps as a locum

I've been a locum GP a couple of weeks now and it's been quite an eye opener.

I've been a locum GP a couple of weeks now and it's been quite an eye opener.

I've signed up with several locum agencies but quickly realised that they rip me off even more than the the partners used to do. Therefore I have decided to go the whole hog and organise all my work myself.

It couldn't be more different to being a salaried GP, having to pimp my services to any passing GP rather than have a nice cosy contract for reassurance. I've made myself some nice business cards, but then had to reprint them all as they had wrong email on them.

I've met my accountant and learnt a bit about the bewildering world of income and expenses. Sorting out my own tax seems frankly terrifying. I went to a talk recently about revalidation and it quickly became apparent that locums are pretty much buggered when it comes to revalidation.

The speaker did say there would be 'allowances' for locum GPs but quite what these are is anyones guess.

I do feel a bit of a mercenary setting my own rates for clinics, visits and on-calls but despite the uncertainties of being a locum it does have its plus side. It's very liberating to work in a variety of practices. Having been used to working a very large practice it was a shock to the system to be covering a single-handed GP. I actually had gaps in my clinic where no-one booked in. I couldn't believe it! The secretaries in one practice kept knocking every 15mins to give me a cup of tea.

I forgot how nice it can be to work in a small practice.

I have seen a few odd things though - unusual medication choices, rooms that wouldn't look out of place in a museum and I got to use an old mercury sphyghmanometer (which I thought were banned).

I am enjoying myself, setting my own workloads and clinic times, not having to do visits if I choose not too and not having to do a mountain of paperwork. It's a whole new world. I would recommend that any salaried GP out there reading this thinks about being a locum for a bit before joining the Dark Side and becoming a partner.

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