June 13th, 2016
The BBC has today published some analysis on the GP workforce in the UK focusing on the use of locum doctors.
Their findings suggest that in certain deprived areas of the country, GP practices are relying heavily on locum doctors. One headline example focused on Bradford, which is known to be possibly the most deprived area in the country. Around 18% of GPs working in the city are classified as "locums". In some instances the BBC stufy found that the majority of doctors working at a practice were locums rather than permanent staff members.
Whilst the system relies heavily on locums to support staff holidays or short term shortages during recruitment drives, the worry seems to be that they are more of a permanent feature in certain practices. Overworked as many locums are and unfamiliar with the patient group, this is unlikely to lead to a high standard of care in the areas affected. The NHS is thought to need up to 5000 extra doctors to work in the NHS by 2020. Even the BMA accepts that there is an unacceptable "variation in care quality" if locums are used in the way described in the report.