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The Pros and Cons of Salaried vs Locum for GPs

Salaried-vs-locum

By Kirsty Morris

This isn’t a new topic! Myself and my colleagues are asked almost daily for advice on which direction to choose. The answer depends on what you are looking for and what suits you based on your individual needs and circumstances. I have drawn up a list of pros and cons for each camp, to help you make your decision!

Salaried: The Benefits 

Working with a consistent team

As a Salaried GP, you will be working in the same practice with a consistent team. General Practice is a consistently changing market and therefore it is useful to have a team around you to support and help when you need it. There are learning, development and social factors, too. Being able to learn from each other in clinical meetings, contribute to practice meetings gives a sense of achievement and belonging, as well as developing your own core skills. Moral support is, I am sure, now more important that ever, which is a huge benefit of being part of consistent team. And the higher the ratio of GPs to patients, the lower the workload stays for everyone in the team. Preventing burnout is crucial, for everyone’s mental health and wellbeing!

Employment rights, Regular Salary, benefits, holidays and study leave

As a salaried doctor you have employment rights and benefits. Annual leave is typically 6 weeks and study leave is typically 1 week. Some practices offer more than this and allow 10 days public holidays too. The contract for a Salaried GP will also include Sick leave, Maternity and Paternity leave.

Continuity of care for patients

A Salaried GP has the opportunity to follow up with cases, pathology and scan results. As patients often have complex needs, follow up by a consistent GP can really make the difference to patient care and hopefully accelerate recovery.

Career opportunities and development

GPs who wish to progress to more senior roles including Partnership or Clinical Lead posts, will often have a development plan and a pathway toward a long term career goal. Some practices will fund external courses and provide additional study leave to complete the courses. For GPs with a Special Interest, it is a great opportunity to develop and practice elements of the role which you enjoy the most, to keep your role varied. For GPs who are looking towards Partnership, Salaried roles will be good preparation and demonstrate the appropriate skills and attributes.

Newly qualified GPs can often be offered a longer induction and a phased workload to take them from Trainee GP to full Salaried GP, including briefing slots, lower appointments and more time.

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Salaried: The Downsides

Commitment to one practice

For GPs who like working in a variety of different locations, teams and with different processes and systems, the commitment to one practice in a regular weekly structure may feel repetitive.

Salary

The weekly salary will likely be lower as a Salaried GP compared to locum. It will be an important exercise to calculate the value of the pension, holiday allowance, and study leave, as well as consider the sick leave you may need to give a more accurate picture of the difference. Locum rates are high currently and Salaried rates have increased in the last 2 years. The market tends to be cyclical and it can fluctuate from being easy to find a post to being incredibly competitive.

Locuming: The Benefits 

Rate of pay

Patient demand is high currently, which means that demand for GPs is higher than normal. Locum rates are high currently. Based on previous months and years, this tends to be cyclical. The salary for a locum GP is typically higher than that of a Salaried GP, due to the nature of the work being irregular.

Workload

Locum GPs may have a lower workload, depending on the practice. This is really practice dependent and to be discussed directly.

Locum: The Downsides 

No guarantees of work (unless in a long term locum at a lower rate than ad hoc locum)

In a fluctuating market, this is something to consider. In the winter time, illness is generally higher, leading to a higher need for Locum GPs to cover short term sickness. Spring and Summer time sees a lower need, and less locum work required.

Lack of team work, being included or not being included in practice meetings, decisions made etc.

It depends on your personality as to whether this works for you – for those who enjoy working by themselves, it can work well.

Lack of being able to offer continuity of patient care; patient follow up, test results

As above, this depends on your character and how you like to work.

Lack of support; particularly if Newly Qualified

Locum GPs will typically be expected to start with a practice and hit the ground running with little to no induction. For an experienced GP, this can be workable, particularly when working in a practice under a CCG they are familiar with. Newly Qualified GPs will need to consider whether they will feel comfortable with this or whether they would prefer an induction and a phased start to their GP career.

Lack of development; learning needs to be self-funded and in own time

Again, self-explanatory.

I hope this helps give an overview of the main pro’s and cons of each pathway. Should you wish to talk through in more detail, you are welcome to call us!

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