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Independents' Day

Half of locums expected to work beyond their contracted hours

Around half of locum GPs are expected to work longer than their contracted hours, while more than 50% say they do not receive enough support at work, a survey by Pulse has shown.

The survey of almost 300 locums found 49.5% faced the expectation that they should work more hours than for which they had been hired (see chart below.)

However the same proportion said they had not experienced this, while 1% said they ‘don’t know’ if this expectation existed.

In addition, a total of 55% of respondents said they had a lack of supervision or support while at work.

In recent months there have been concerns that locum GPs are dealing with escalating workloads due to mounting recruitment problems – meaning locums are left managing thousands of patients with whom they are not familiar.

In July, BMA representatives in North Wales said locums working at health board-managed practices in the region had an ‘unacceptable workload’.

The North East Wales BMA division said locums working at GP surgeries overseen by Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board were having to manage more than 5,000 patients.

Dr Farook Jishi, division secretary, said at the time that the level of workload was ‘hard enough for GPs when it is their own patients and they know the area,’ noting the ‘tremendous’ amount of stress doctors were under.

Gareth Bowdler, east area medical director for the health board, said at the time: ‘Recruitment of GPs is an ongoing challenge due to an unprecedented shortage of GPs nationally.’

There were ongoing efforts to recruit salaried, permanent GPs to their practices, he said.



Source: The Pulse survey was launched on 25 September 2018, collating responses using the SurveyMonkey tool. The 29 questions asked covered a wide range of GP locum topics, to avoid selection bias on one issue. The survey was advertised to our readers via our website and email newsletter, with a prize draw for £200 of John Lewis tokens as an incentive to complete the survey. Around 283 locum GPs responded to this survey.

Readers' comments (5)

  • This is why we as a profession are considered pushovers. The upside of being a locum is the flexibility and freedom to set your own working hours. If you don't get paid for working beyond your contracted hours, dont work there anymore! Just walk away and find somewhere else to work! I can just about understand partners and salaried doctors being caught up in this but locums? C'mon guys...

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  • Regardless of the long ingrained habit that we doctors work on and on until 'the decks are cleared',it is very unwise to enact such an expectation these days without both the employing practices and their staff/locums seeking advice as to whether their medical indemnity would include extra unexpected hours of work.
    In fact, it is unlikely that the locum will be indemnified for uncontacted hours of clinical work & in doing so they may well open themselves to a significant risk of being without cover for the work done at the end of an over long shift,(even if that's 'just lab results and prescription requests') as this is when fatigue may well increase the risk of errors and omissions occurring.
    Any practice requiring their staff to work beyond their contracted hours should be open about this and ensure these are duly indemnified first..and of course that any overtime is remunerated correctly.

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  • Lack of supervision? I thought a locum is independent and should not asking for advice. They are not trainees and command pay higher than a partner.

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  • Like many of you, I have worked both sides of this. Locum work is easier generally, and a welcome pleasure compared to partnership. every time, UNLESS you are deliberately (and disrespectfully) overbooked. This is rare in my experience. I try to work in familiar practices and I think this means that I also bring some added value as I understand I will likely be seeing the patient again.
    If you're reading this, HMRC, yes I have used your IR35 online tool and I'm OK, so b*gger off.

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  • It's a question where the answer may need clarification. I am usually booked for nominal hours, and usually finish about on time (sometimes early!).
    IF an emergency occurred just before finish time on a duty day, BUT this was a rare and unexpected occurrence in that practice, I would expect to see the job through to the end, and be paid extra, if I was the Duty Doctor. It's a rural thing I suspect. However, I would be displeased, and would make it clear, if the extra time was due again to Social Services or WAST failing to provide a suitable service in a reasonable time.

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