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Independents' Day

Preferred supplier scheme will make GP locums ‘more cost-effective’

GP practices will be able to be confident they are not paying over the odds for locum cover under a new ‘preferred supplier’ scheme launched by the Government.

The Cabinet Office has vetted and signed up 20 locum agencies to a scheme that will see practices guaranteed a maximum price for cover for the first time.

Practices will also be able to run mini-tenders between suppliers to drive prices down.

The move comes at a time when locum agencies are offering locums for up to £1,500 a day, although this was for bank holidays and last-minute booking.

The Medical Locums Framework has been running for hospital doctors for four years, but the new framework includes GPs for the first time and the Government hopes will drive down costs for practices.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: ‘The Medical Locums framework provides healthcare organisations with cost-effective access to pre-approved agencies for the supply of medical locums.

‘This framework sets out maximum rates to be paid by customers for grades and specialisms and specifies commercial terms and conditions to make the buying process as easy as possible.

‘Customers are free to buy directly from suppliers on the framework, or introduce further competition between suppliers within the framework via a smaller tender process if they wish.’

Practices will still be able to recruit locums from outside the framework, the spokesperson confirmed.

The agencies in the framework will complete the vetting process for the locums and will take responsibility for locums used from other agencies when making up any shortfall.

But Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chief executive of the National Association of Sessional GPs, said it was unlikely the scheme would improve the way GP locums worked.

He said: ‘The problems relating to the locum market are not with practices having to do checks.

‘The number one problem facing the locum market is professional isolation. That has an effect on quality, recruitment, retention.’

Readers' comments (15)

  • Hourly Rates paid to GP locums is already sol low that any further reduction will have significant reduction the quality of care to the patients. ( We get paid for 2-3 hours but end up working 3-5 hours because of paperwork, referrals, admin generated bu seeing patients)

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  • Is this not anti-competitive - fixing the price and pushing locums who are outside the framework. wondr what BMA got to say about this

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  • THe BMA will support it as a cap on locum fees will increase practice profitability.

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  • A locum rate for 1 session, 15-16 pts and 1 visit with clock watching , is 220pounds=103k without the contributions toward their pensions.
    This is an excellent sum of money, not most partners take home this sums. Forget not -most partners coming in on their hols or s/l or dys off to do admin work.
    Also I do not see locxums contributing to QOF or chronic care.

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  • Many locums lack support and are professional isolated, such measures being brought do not incline the profession towards being more inclusive. I struggle to see how this move will support freelance gps. Better supported doctors lead to improved outcomes for the NHS and patients.

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  • I have started working as a Locum GP recently due to family reasons - the fact that we are earning 103K/year seems a bit over the top. We do not work everyday of the week - even if we wanted to as there is no work. I do not get paid when i am off sick - that is no pay unlike people in salaried or partnership position.
    I have to take time off from not earing to attend my training and to meet other professional needs.
    So locums being expensive is a myth - people need to try it out themselves if they think it is that lucrative.

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  • There is a big elephant in the room chaps!

    Our local plumber has a minimum £75/hr charge!

    I help save lives and cure,treat people.It took me 10years to start as a GP.

    I get paid £70/hr,and i don't charge when i obligatorily overrun because of paper work.

    Go figure.Don't be hood winked

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  • Locums being paid 60pounds/hour - the next time we book our luxury car or get plumbing/heating fixed - please check the hourly rate it is 50 for the plumber/heating engr and the mercedes showroom tech 100/hour. I think locums are far more qualified than them and deserve the same if not more. It is the squeeze on NHS that is responsible for this divide.

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  • I do salaried work as well as locum work. I charge £80/hour for my locum work which is justifiable considering my responsibility, the length of my training and experience, the intensity of work, my considerable expenses (MPS, car, phone, equipment, continuing education, pension, holiday/sick pay). Practices want to pay as little as possible of course to their salaried and GP colleagues and this is just another way to allow expolitation by our partner "colleagues" and government/BMA (same thing in my opinion). I am always telling my locum colleagues they charge too little but I won't be joining them in their race to the bottom! My husband is in a different profession and consultancy fees of around £1500/day are typical.

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  • Hussain Gandhi

    Am currently a partner and I support the locum viewpoint. Though as a partner you do more work for what seems same or less money over a year, you still have the benefits of regular employment, partnership agreement and security.

    Additionally a good quality locum more often then not is happy to engage in QOF etc and even SEA, so please do not de-value the contributions they can make. If you are having bad experiences the please look for better locums, and plan better.

    Regarding the article though, I do feel it makes life more difficult for independent locums and also will effect NHS pension contributions. That I feel is the more pertinent issue with these changes regarding eligibility of contributions.

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