How to find a Locum GP, and when you’ll need one

Primary care practices are facing huge clinical and political pressure. Every surgery considers high-quality care their priority, and they want to meet the need for it, but it takes incredible work and effort to deliver that. 

For most medical settings, whether primary, secondary, or social care, staffing is one of the top three concerns, if not the very greatest challenge, and healthcare workers are in enormous demand. Locums can be the immediate solution, whether it’s for a short-term staffing requirement, a long-term absence, or the urgent need for specific skills. 

Here are the essentials to know and remember when hiring a locum GP, and the answers to some of the most common questions that a practice manager might have. 

How does a locum GP work? 

A locum (short for ‘locum tenens’ or ‘place holder’) is an independent GP who works at a practice for a set period of time, usually measured in days or sessions. If a surgery needs an additional doctor, there are several reasons why they might find it easier to hire a locum than to wait until they find a full-time salaried or a partner GP – Which is not guaranteed. By hiring locums, you can get highly qualified and experienced GPs into the practice swiftly. 

Why hire a locum GP? 

There are several reasons why a locum might be the best choice. A lot of the time, it will be to cover for the absence of a salaried or a partner GP. That might be due to long-term sickness, parental leave, a sabbatical or they simply cannot replace or find someone for the role.  

Sometimes, a practice does need to hire a new permanent GP. However, that’s not always an easy thing to do, and it’s never a quick process or even guaranteed. Getting a locum in place means that a lot of the pressure is off. You can offer the same level of care to patients while you search for the best-fitting permanent GP – which ensures continuity of care isn’t affected. 

Finally, there might be additional skills that the practice needs to bring in for a specific patient needs which a locum with specialist interests in those skills could be the perfect solution. 

What are the requirements for a locum GP? 

Anyone working as a GP must meet the CQC criteria and follow the same practices being registered on the GMC & NPL alongside all relevant mandatory training, DBS & indemnity. 

It’s the practice’s responsibility to check that their locum complies with all of the above. 

How long can a locum work? 

The simple answer is, there’s no limit. 

The practice will have a number of sessions or days that they need covered, and they will agree that with the locum. However, there’s nothing to stop the practice agreeing more days or sessions with the locum. 

A locum contract can be as long as both parties agree, they can renew it as many times as they choose. 

Is a locum self-employed? 

Yes. A locum GP is an independent contractor, and that simplifies the relationship for the surgery. 

The practice isn’t their employer, which means they don’t have to factor in holiday pay, statutory sick pay, parental leave, or medical indemnity insurance. 

REMEMBER: The practice still has to establish if IR35 rules apply to the contract. You can find out using tools like this one. 

Locum employment rights 

Because a locum’s employment status is ‘independent contractor’, they don’t have the same rights as an employee (see above — no paid for employee benefits i.e., no employer contribution pension, no sick pay or paid annual leave). 

They do have the same right to health and safety and the protections of the Equalities Act, but that goes without saying. 

How to find a locum GP 

The most efficient and effective way to find a locum is to use a search partner. 

Talent specialists will have relationships with many GPs who perform locum work, which means they can get in touch with their contacts to quickly find a well-suited and available locum doctor. 

If there’s nobody in that pool looking for locum jobs, the talent partner will have an experienced team dedicated to the search, who work full time to find excellent candidates in a short timeframe. 

Why should that partner be MCG healthcare? Here’s why. 

Dependable and compliant staff 

You will get some of the best staff in healthcare, and you can be confident that they’ll be compliant — our last Audit scored 100%. 

Dedicated support 

You will have the support of experienced sector specialists, who’ll be proactive and responsive from search to placement, and beyond. 

Transparency and trust 

You will find the process transparent throughout, with straightforward and honest answers to any of your questions. You can also rely on us to source dependable candidates with the skills and experience that you need the most. 

To quickly fill your locum positions with dependable, compliant, GPs contact or call 0330 024 1345. We’ll find you the best match, even at short notice. 

About the author
Roberto Orlandi Recruitment Manager

Roberto Orlandi is the GP Recruitment Manager at MCG Healthcare. He specialises in working on large scale recruitment campaigns within the Primary Care Sector but predominately with GPs. Having spent over seven years in the industry, he has a passion for providing solutions to the NHS and ensuring patients receive the care they deserve.

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