Should there be a minimum rate for Locums?
Should there be a minimum rate for locums?
A few weeks ago we put this issue to members of our Facebook group.
The main reasons for agreement were based heavily on the difference in surgeries and the length of certain shifts.
Different IT systems and a lack of clarity of how much of the shift is clinical and how much is dedicated to admin are very strongly supported as reasons for change.
In the case of the latter, we found that some GPs spoke of a tendency to dump on the locum because of their temporary status
This also may extend to inappropriate home visits to complex patients where the locum may be inexperienced in their case. This is the rough end of the scale, for sure, but it's something locum GPs feel strongly about. When the majority of a shift may be understanding the new environment or inner politics of a surgery, it could lead to a lesser level of patient care. One of our comments was: "As a locum, I never liked getting paid for 3 hours surgery which took 5 hours to finish. The choice seemed to be to do your job poorly (as in any referral to go back to next doctor, anything lengthy - book another appointment) or work for free."
However, it is not just practices; agencies and some job boards may be somewhat flexible in their advertising. One of our Locums said that they had seen online some jobs advertised at £100 and then with further enquiry, you discover the rate is much lower. Shift length plays a part in this too, one GP added: "If a practice is seeking a locum for a two hour shift it (a lower rate) may seem to small to take up. Practices should aim for at least three hours in order to make the shift seem worthwhile financially. I suspect it is hard to fill short sessions, especially if one has to commute."
On top of this, an important issue is that a lower rate for a shift may not attract the best GPs, rather those who may not be as able and can't get work elsewhere.
So, with the consensus that there should be a minimum rate, we asked what that should be. The standard response was 80p/h as that takes into account all the timetabling and general issues.
And though the free market rules out the possibility of a fixed rate in the near future, we think that healthcare recruitment should do what it can to help this issue. At Network Locum (now Lantum), we found that our rates were, on average, 80.2 an hour and we plan to keep it that way. When transparency is a major issue for the future of the NHS, we feel that it is the least we can do as a modern agency that seeks to not only provide fit, accountable locums but connect them with the practices that are the same.
For more on this and to participate in any further discussions, GPs can join our FB group