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Locum shortage not clear cut

Regarding your letter on Devon LMC's analysis of locum availability, there is a lot more to be said on this subject.

Booking locums 'much harder' this year

There was no attempt to break down the respondents into categories (such as locums, salaried GPs, partners or practice managers). This means the results cannot be readily interpreted.

There was no mandate for this survey – it was done on the back of a few complaints about GPs not having locums to cover their meetings – and there is no intention to reproduce it in a traditionally quieter locum month such as January.

There was no attempt by the LMC to liaise directly with sessional GPs in the area on this matter. Nor did they contact us via our website (set up with their agreement) in order to try and reach this group for a broader response rate.

They emailed practice managers, and put a link on their website and newsletter. Arguably, they have missed out on tapping the resource they claim is not available. I email 136 locums on a monthly basis in the Devon area.

If there really is such a shortage of locums, is this not just a reflection of earlier policies to reduce partnerships and the fact many people were driven into salaried posts?

One doctor in five, according to the chair of Plymouth LMC, is a locum – yet there is a call for more.

Surely the public would rather have more partners in practice?

From Dr Hamish Duncan
Chair, Exeter Sessional GP Group

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