Career profiles: The Locum GP

Becoming a locum can offer a general practitioner (GP) the chance to work flexibly in different healthcare environments. Here is a look at the basics of working as a locum GP.

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What is a locum GP?

A locum GP is not employed continuously by a single medical practice. Instead, most locums work on a self-employed freelance basis. A locum may cover for a regular GP at a local surgery, or they may work in other settings, such as a prison.

What are the advantages of working as a locum GP?

One of the main advantages is the opportunity to work in a wide range of medical practices and healthcare environments. It also provides the chance to treat a wider variety of patients. Many locum GPs find they can devote more time to patient care. Working as a locum can also offer a better work/life balance. In addition, becoming a locum can help a newly-qualified GP build up experience prior to joining a practice as a partner.

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What are the implications of becoming a locum?

Locum GPs are responsible for setting their own rates, keeping accounts and paying their own taxes. A good starting point for a GP wishing to become a locum is guidance from the British Medical Association. A GP also needs to have certain documentation in place before they will be considered for a locum assignment, including a training certificate, medical indemnity certificate, and a DBS check.

Are there any drawbacks to working as a locum GP?

Possibly the biggest drawback is the lack of employment security. However, rather than spending all their time searching for GP locum jobs, practitioners can sign with a specialist agency, such as, that matches candidates with suitable assignments. Other things to consider include the fact that unlike a practice GP, locums will not develop long-term doctor/patient relationships. A locum might also feel they do not enjoy the same level of support from colleagues as a GP employed by a practice.

Becoming a locum can offer freedom and flexibility, but it is important that GPs are aware of what is involved in setting up as a “freelancer”. For GPs who want to treat patients but do not wish to commit to a permanent position with a single practice, working as a locum could be the ideal temporary solution or long-term career.

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