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Let's treat the 'locum cap' with the contempt it deserves

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Apparently, we’ve got to put a cap on locums. Which confused me at first. What sort of cap? Baseball, flat or shower? Or Dutch, to stop them replicating? But no, of course, I remember now, the cap is on locum rates rather than locum’s heads.

These ideas are presumably dreamed up by people who really, really hate GPs

But it isn’t even that, either. Because it’s not a real cap. It’s just a nominal one, of £80 per hour. Or £80.01, bizarrely. It was written into the contract, right? We all got cross about it, then forgot the whole thing and, since nothing more had been heard, hoped that the Government had, too.

No such luck. Sometime soon, it seems we will have to fill in a mandatory report on how many locums we’ve ‘overpaid’ in the last quarter – so that extra 1p bonus could cost you hours in Excel spreadsheet time.

I can barely be bothered to highlight the various issues around this. Such as working out what exactly £80 per hour means. Is that with superannuation or not? Does it include visits? Or scripts? Or breaks? And what’s the point, it’s a free market, why measure what you can’t control etc?

What I would like to do is point out that the exercise is very much like another contractual arse-ache of a little while ago: the requirement that we should publish our average earnings. Remember how apoplectic we were about that?  And note now the disparity between that indignant energy we expended and the who-gives-a-tossness the eventual publication elicited.

This is the same. These ideas are presumably dreamed up by people who really, really hate GPs, want to make a point and want to tie us in knots in the making of it (that point probably being that GPs and locums earn far too much money, though how both can apply beats me). Well I think we should make a point of our own, specifically that these exercises are pointless, meaningless and ridiculous, and should be treated with the contempt they deserve.

So join me in making a mockery of the whole thing by entering in the requisite box your hat size, or some other random number which bears no relation to the figure the DH is looking for and entails no effort whatsoever. Do that, and I’ll doff my cap to you. Just as soon as I can get it off my overpaid locum’s head.

Dr Tony Copperfield is a GP in Essex. You can follow him on Twitter @DocCopperfield

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Readers' comments (14)

  • This dear government believes in market forces so shum mishtake shurely.

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  • I am exempt from these reports because I am not a GP, but in fact a Jedi Knight.
    (well it worked for the census....)

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  • The devil is in the detail. I work and charge by the session. Just under £100 per hour in a 3.5hr session. I go home and have a break. I then (if wanted) come back and do another session. Now, strictly by the hours, the £80.01p is breached. However taken by the day the limit is not. Easy eh? I hear hospitals fiddle with the hours all the time.

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  • DEAR ALL...please pay attention.

    UNTIL they can audit your accounts, or force you to comply in some other way, simply submit a nil return and ignore it.

    If they have no data at all out of this they will soon forget the whole thing.

    How will they prove the data wrong?

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  • I really must put my rates up as I am obviously not charging enough

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  • Why are we so cheap?
    My car is serviced at ££45 per hour, and my divorce para-legal was charging £290 per hour

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  • This is ridiculous. I am going to write in Donald Trump, he'll sort it out.

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  • Don't return any figures. What sort of contract can be changed by one side at their whim - that's not a contract, it's rule by decree.....

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  • I don't know why anyone is surprised? It seems obvious that this is just one more disencentive to doctors to work in the NHS and party of Jezzas grand plan to bring it all tumbling down.

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  • Locums will surely see less patients per hour if the cap works
    This may be a positive
    Oh access may be reduced ?

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From: Copperfield

Dr Tony Copperfield is a jobbing GP in Essex with more than a few chips on his shoulder