We stopped using locums last year to save on costs. It is a combination: the cost of locums is going up as practice income goes down. You think: ‘Well where can you save money?’
There are two of us here, and what we are basically doing is that when one is off the other one is covering. So we do more time ourselves and employ fewer locums.
That is mainly on financial grounds but, without upsetting some of my locum colleagues, it is also on quality grounds. Because obviously if you only go into a practice occasionally, you don’t really know how that practice runs and how they like to do things. We are able to have more control if it is only the partners running it.
It is actually more about the practice income going down. Like every practice we have seen how general expenses are increasing and income, through the contract, is going down and that just puts a squeeze on all costs and you look around and say: ‘What can we save?’
We actually booked a locum for this Thursday morning, but that was the first time we have employed one for over a year. Occasional needs must and we book a locum for a session but otherwise we have just been more coordinated in-house to make sure that we can cover each other.
Dr Grant Ingrams is a GP in Coventry