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It's time we expanded the locum chambers model

Dr Richard Fieldhouse argues that locums can help turn the recruitment crisis around

From Dr Richard Fieldhouse, chairman of the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP)

In your news article ‘More foreign GPs are essential to hit 5,000 target’, Professor Maureen Baker says we need to ‘recruit, retain and return’ as many family doctors as possible.

She’s absolutely right, and a large part of this means making the most effective use of the GPs we already have. There are already two very effective models in place that do this, namely the salaried GP and the partnership model. But what of the 17,000 GP locums? This figure isn’t set to decrease anytime soon; in fact, it’s going to increase as our struggling practices find it ever harder to recruit.

It’s time we did more to expand the locum GP chambers model - small, efficient, professional units of motivated and dedicated locums that have developed symbiotic relationships with local CCGs and practices to support them through this climate.

So far, only a few of these chambers exist, mostly in Yorkshire and the Wirral in the north, but also in Avon, Wessex, Surrey, Sussex and London in the south. Where they do exist, they seem to be particularly popular with ex-GP partners.

The success and popularity of the chambers model has raised eyebrows, prompting some to ask whether they threaten traditional local GP practices. After all, if there were no partnerships, who’d employ locums? But while the demise of partnerships and loss of the leadership and dedication of GP partners would be a tragedy for the UK, locums aren’t the cause of this. Instead, they’re the effect of prolonged, gross underfunding. The workload and commitment of a partnership or salaried post is becoming impossible, and many GPs feel they can do a better job outside of these constraints.

The development of locum chambers is part of the solution to recruitment issues as they can help retain and attract GPs who would otherwise be lost to the profession.


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Readers' comments (6)

  • Wise words. Please set up one of those in Norfolk.

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  • I think chambers is where all dr's will end up if the NHS truly dies.

    Those who are trying to save it are trying to save some continuity of care.

    If the attack on the NHS continues, there are several hospital depts of consultants who are making plans to resign and offer their services via a chambers model.

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  • But if you die at the weekend you wont get your Death in Service benefits. Mr Hunt probably has plans for Locums and they aren't good ones, he will want to limit Locums rather than help them.

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  • Secure environments GP

    I'm thinking of how to set one up in the (East) Midlands. Don't know of one at all. I shall contact you Richard.
    Anyone interested email me on

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  • "If he dies he dies." wise words from Arnie.

    no death in service benefit so I guess locums need to get more life insurance. yet another extra fee for locums and I guess now we have to raise fees to cover this. Thanks NHS pension. surely we should pay less if we don't get all the benefits. also were no less employed than partners who are also self employed. we are also no more temporary as we all keep working until we retire or die. F"$k you very much Jeremy

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  • You need life insurance (an probably critical illness ) anyway if you have a large mortgage. If chambers are formed to catch a wider area of the country, we will be in a much better position to negotiate appropriate terms.

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