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Locums feel ignored

Report describes locums as 'the lost tribe'

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 05 November 2008

GP locums feel "ignored" and are not properly represented.

This is the message of the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP) which has just issued a report highlighting the problem.

NASGP chief executive Dr Richard Fieldhouse, said enquiries to the NHS, the GMC, the Medical Protection Society and the RCGP revealed that none collected information on locums.

A "conspiracy of ignorance" meant that GP locums do not appear in any government statistics and are not properly represented, said Dr Fieldhouse.

The NASGP estimates that 15,500 (28%) of the 57,000 GPS registered on the GMC’s database are locums. Locums are currently represented by the BMA’s Sessional GP subcomittee which is part of the General Practitioners Committee.

The NASGP has presented its report to the British Medical Association claiming that it is time that locums were given their own committee within the BMA.

“A quarter of all GPs work freelance," Dr Fieldhouse told OnMedica, “and yet they are currently just part of a subcommittee within a subcommittee. This means you have employers and employees on the same committee. There needs to be a separate committee for salaried GPs – we now have the numbers for this. ”

Dr Fieldhouse described locums as a "lost tribe of GPs, working in the background", and said more accurate ways of assessing locum numbers and resources were needed.

But, speaking to OnMedica, Dr Vicky Weeks, chair of the BMA’s Sessional GP subcommittee, denied salaried GPs were out on a limb.

"All locums and salaried GPs are represented by the BMA’s Sessional GP subcommittee, which is part of the GPC. The Sessional GP Subcommittee is open to all sessional GPs, locums and salaried and it is the only nationally elected body representing all Sessional GPs.

"The benefit of being part of the wider committee is that the GPC is the statutory body representing all GPs, and has the sole negotiating rights with the Department of Health. The subcommittee is committed to maximising its influence and as part of the GPC can therefore represent locum and salaried GP issues at national and departmental level."

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