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Poll suggests one in seven practices rely on locum staff to cover over 20% of the workload

By Elizabeth Frank on 17 May 2016

A total of 14% of 352 GP respondents who took part in a GP online survey, reported that over a fifth of work arrangements provided by their practice had been covered by locum staff over the past year. Over 50% of GPs explained that the number of sessions filled by locums had increased in the past year.

The results suggest that practices are becoming ever more reliant on locum staff, resulting in a rising demand. In addition, there are difficulties in recruiting full -time GPs and partners due to the unsteady GP retention rates.

The poll also recognised a shift in the GP workforce; instead of working in a more traditional setting through salaried roles or as a partner, doctors are now choosing to work as locums. This decision was based on avoiding workload pressures.

GP online has also revealed that nearly a quarter of GP openings have remained vacant for over a year. Locums have been used on a long term basis to cover absences and maternity leave. One locum GP said, after replacing a GP who retired from the practice, ‘Since joining the practice where I work, I work 10 hours over two days at four sessions per week, which more or less equates to the clinical consultations the single-handed GP partner carries out’.

Another partner revealed that between 36%-50% of the sessions at their practice were covered by a locum GP after a salaried partner went on maternity leave. It has been difficult to find replacement GPs, and locums are now taking over practices which would have otherwise closed. Securing locums is just as tough as many doctors are just not available to work the demanding sessions.

TPP Healthcare are experts in recruiting for temporary and permanent support staff for General Practices. If you would like to discuss recruitment for NHS experienced Receptionists or Secretaries, please do get in touch on 020 7198 6080 or email