The Unappreciated Service Of Locum Doctors

30 Apr 2018 By Views : 373

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It is apparent that the demand for locum has been increasing over the recent years.  Shortage of substantive manpower within the NHS is one of the key reasons for this aggressive growth of the locum industry.

There have been several propositions claiming that the working environment for the locum doctors is not pleasant on many occasions. “Why does the locum doctor get paid more than substantive for doing the same job” is one the most frequently challenging statement. 

Pay rate is just one factor that is obvious to most. There are many downsides to be a locum. Locum Hospital doctors have to sacrifice a lot of their convenience to survive in their profession. They often have to work away from their home and have to be flexible to travel. There are many locum doctors who re-locate for each of their placements leaving their family and friends away. The locums usually spend a lot of time traveling as long as 90 minutes each way every day. In addition, the disadvantages of locum work include missing continuity of care, no maternity benefit, no annual leave pay, no college recognition, no postgraduate education allowance, and limited professional camaraderie (Dr Richard Fieldhouse, National Association of Non-Principals).

“The Differences within the Career Path of Locums and Substantive”. 

The substantive doctors are on a training programme to promote their grade in the following year. i.e. ST2/CT2 doctor under a training programme will find themselves working as a registrar in the following year with the provided training whereas the locum doctors more likely to remain the same position.

“Struggles the Locum has to Face”. 

Personnel departments have been known to cancel placements at the last-minute causing inconvenience and with no compensation. Locum doctors find it very difficult to get a good understanding of the duties and responsibilities for their confirmed placements. There are many occasions where the doctor finds themselves in a difficult position as the duties expected are beyond their calibre.  Dr Phillip Morgan stated in an article on the BMJ that “the incumbent staff often seem hostile. There was an attitude that as I was paid more I should do their work as well. But when I asked why they did not do the locum job, the silence was deafening. Furthermore, Dr Morgan states that locums are stigmatized as second-class doctors, seemingly having a lack of responsibility. A doctor at a calibre of having three years of teaching hospital experience as a registrar, Dr Morgan explains that he often finds himself being advised by junior staffs on how operations should be performed. “The irony is that locums often have more experience in different ways of managing conditions than incumbent doctors” – Dr Phillip Morgan. 

In conclusion, it is certain that the locums are great in demand. The work is varied giving doctors the opportunity to practice different aspects of specialties during their early stage of the career without a long-term commitment. Locums often state that the work is flexible and more importantly it is interesting. Medical staffing often finds these locum candidates as an asset.

Even though the locum are fully trained to practice at their grade, it is very important for them to constantly update themselves with up-to-date training to ensure their knowledge base

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