After a 5 week fly-drive holiday in the USA at the end of my GP training, I came back to the UK essentially unemployed. For the first time in years, I had to go out look for work independently. The prospect of calling multiple surgeries in the Bristol area and arranging work felt quite daunting.
Ever since I qualified from medical school in 2004, I have received my monthly pay slip, with PAYE, national insurance and pensions already taken out and was oblivious to how much I was really worth. Now, as a locum GP, I have to negotiate a fee with a practice – but what fee should I charge? Should it be based on sessions or an hourly rate? How do I pay my own pensions and to whom? And how do I fill in one of those fiendish HRMC self-employment forms?
Before I could even consider looking for work, I had to make sure my GMC GP registration, national medical performers list, medical indemnity cover, enhanced CRB and CV were up-to-date, because this paperwork is often requested by locum bookers at surgeries. Finally, I signed up with a local sessional GP group to address my educational needs, which is crucial in the new revalidation landscape.
My first booking as a locum GP was both exciting and scary to get. Despite overrunning a bit, I managed to get through my morning session without having a breakdown. Arranging some IT training a few days earlier was a great help, although on the day I did wing it a bit with the computers!
Although I’ve only been working as a locum GP for six weeks now, I understand that in order to remain a successful and sane locum, it is preferable to work in one practice as a long term locum with out of hours work as a top up. Thankfully, in the last couple of weeks, I have secured myself a six month maternity locum and having already started doing OOH work.
GP locuming is my ‘Brave New World’ and I hope to share my thoughts with you all in the coming year.
Dr Avradeep Chakrabarti is a GP locum, living and working in Bristol