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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Time to lay this animosity to rest between locums and principals

In my short time as a GP registrar I have noticed an increasingly fractured workforce. We now have GMS, PMS, GPs with special interests, locums, retainers ­ the list goes on. As this fracturing continues we are in danger of misunderstanding what our different colleagues do and perhaps of becoming jealous.

Nowhere is this more apparent than the feelings between locums and principals. Principals see locums as well-paid mercenaries who have no real commitment to patients, swan in and out of surgery and often work to rule.

What principals don't realise is that it is difficult to turn up at a strange practice and get to grips with the computer system and all the workings of the surgery.

Although they may appear well paid, the income is uncertain and, in most cases, not eligible for NHS pension contributions.

All locums went to medical school, trained in general practice and have promised to uphold the same high ethical and moral standards as principals. It is offensive to suggest they are not committed to their patients.

Locums, on the other hand, may not consider the stresses on their principal colleagues. It is also not easy for conscientious principals to hand the care of their patients to a locum they do not know.

Many practices are strapped for cash and if they pay locums a good wage it is reasonable to expect a locum to do the same work that a principal would have done. Locums who work to rule do themselves no favours.

It really shouldn't matter if a GP is a locum or a principal. Both groups do an excellent job under difficult circumstances.

We are, after all, all GPs. It is

time for the animosity between locums and principals to be laid

to rest.

Dr Alastair Bint

GP registrar

Guildford, Surrey

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