Sessional GPs: do you know your LMC? Results of our survey
Do you know about your LMC (Local Medical Committee) and how they can support you? Or is it yet another acronym in the haze of GP politics that you like to keep firmly in the distance?
It’s no surprise that so many GPs are disengaged from the issues – 71% of 139 respondents in our recent survey said that primary care politics was not covered in your VTS. But with the profession currently in crisis – a toxic combination of underfunding, overwork, plummeting recruitment levels and low morale, engagement with the wider issues is more important than ever.
“I was told I couldn't vote at LMC elections as I was a locum” – survey respondent.
And with the surge in popularity of sessional GPs, involvement of this group, previously viewed as “marginalised”, engaging salaried and locum GPs in the debate over the future of the profession is more important than ever.
LMCs should be well placed to be the starting point: according to the BMA, they represent and advise on all matters concerning GPs including professional standards, feeding back to the BMA GPC, workforce planning, collaborating with the GMC and occupational health. They also help individual GPs with remuneration, terms and conditions of work, complaints and employment or partnership issues.
“Our LMC blocks most innovation under the heading of gp dumping” – survey respondent.
Anecdotally, however, LMCs can be viewed by sessionals as partner-led and orientated as well as having their energy consumed by batting away new ideas that lead to extra work without pay. Approaching an LMC for help with employment issues can be challenging for the salaried GP who finds that the very partners they are in conflict with are LMC chairs.
“LMCs are dominated by male partners who don't like to be challenged” – survey respondent.
“LMCs could market themselves better to sessionals so that they are seen as the ‘go to’ organisation. The could promote examples of where they have helped sessionals with problems and achieved positive outcomes.”
Knowledge about LMC functions from our survey was patchy. 29% of you were not aware that the LMC could represent you locally while 16% thought they were represented by the RCGP or CCGs.
“I have no idea what an LMC really is or does” – survey respondent.
15% thought that salaried GPs could not be LMC board members while 31% thought that locums were also excluded from these roles. Only 60% knew how to contact their LMC and only 55% receive the regular LMC emails.
“The main issue is communication. LMCs do not necessarily know who the sessional GPs working in the area are.”
“In >10years of working in general practice, the only correspondence that I have received is an invitation to apply for a position. I should know what they do for GPs but have no idea.”
The LMC levy – a fee to cover the organisation’s administrative costs – is also a source of confusion. Only 54% of survey respondents were aware of this; unsurprisingly given the variation in areas as to how this is administered with some LMCs relying on contributions from each practice and some requiring GP sessionals to make individual contributions. Contributions vary around the £50 to £100 mark per annum.
“Stop making it that we have to pay as individuals – the costs of working are difficult enough without this.”
“My local LMC do not allow sessional GPs access to its services so not sure how or why we would help.”
So, what can be done to change things?
Respondents submitted suggestions such as the need for sessionals to become more proactive in getting involved with LMCs, LMC gaining access to sessionals via the performers list; the need for each LMC to have a sessional GP representative or forum and for LMCs to promote themselves more to sessionals, including via email and social media. Having sessional GP areas of LMC websites was also another idea.
“Apply to join. I am an ex partner and have been on the LMC for a while. I resigned as a partner but still sit on LMC and now represent my locality, sessional GPs and local practices.”
The BMA has also issued guidance for LMCs on how to reach out to sessional GPs.
Sessional GPs wishing to make contact with their LMC can find the contact details for their area here.
Claire Davies, GP and Editor of the Network Locum (now Lantum) blog