As more trainees move away from partnerships in favour of locum work you may be curious about the benefits of working as a locum GP. Is it something worth exploring and could it fit into your lifestyle? Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of GP locum work.
Advantages of GP Locum Work
A reduction in administrative duties: While there will be routine admin duties to fulfil locum GPs are not subject to and as responsible for the administrative duties that surgeries must adhere to. This gives a locum the freedom to focus on patient care.
Work Home Balance: You have the freedom to choose where you work, for how long, and when you are available to work. Fit work around your family.
Whether you only want to work one day a week, on weekends, out of hours or you like the idea of working part-time for two different practices (earning a full-time salary) this type of flexibility is available to locum GPs.
If you have a hobby or passion for something unrelated to your GP work that you want to focus on working as a locum GP will mean that you continue to bring in an income while you enjoy working on your passion.
78% of locum GPs cite flexible working hours as a key reason to becoming a locum (Pulse GP Jobs Survey, 2015).
Tax Advantages: As a locum GP your employment status is “contractor” which means you can set yourself up as a business and some of your expenses (e.g. travel/mileage, training costs, equipment etc) have the potential to be a tax deductable expense and can be offset against your earnings.
Contact your tax advisor or accountant for more information about your personal circumstances because many locum GPs find they end up paying less tax.
Supplement your income: It is a great way to supplement your income. If you are a partner or employed GP looking to supplement your income or a retired GP looking for occasional work locum shifts can be invaluable.
Grow your experience and network: Working as GP locum is a great introduction into general practice outside of your training practice. As you work in different roles within different primary care settings your personal network will grow.
Disadvantages of GP Locum Work
So, those are all the advantages of GP locum work but are there any dis-advantages? There are a few that you need to consider before deciding whether this way of working is right for you.
Lack of stability - It can be harder to build relationships with your co-workers and feel part of a team if you are constantly moving to different surgeries. This is part of being a GP that Medical Staffing look to reduce by providing our locum GPs with medium and long-term contracts lasting several months.
You may need to be familiar with a range of different software packages. This won't be such an issue as your knowledge increases but when you first start working within locum roles you may find there are different software packages that you have to become familiar with if you want to widen your scope of job opportunities.
Time spent travelling to and from your work location may sometimes be an issue if you can't find work within your local area. While we work towards matching local GPs with local work this aspect of locum work is sometimes unavoidable.
Using Agencies vs Doing It Alone
Some GPs decide to find their own work. This means not only are they responsible for sourcing new work, they must also invoice work (and all the work that chasing invoices can entail), and be responsible for keeping accurate records for income tax purposes.
You will have to be very organised to keep up with all this work yourself while also carrying out your role. Eventually you may have to take on the extra expense of paying someone to manage your paperwork for you and all the extra work that is involved with that (paying a salary, PAYE records etc).
If you decide to find your own GP locum work you may want to also hire an accountant who will be responsible for your tax returns for the tax year. Even though you pay an accountant to do this work for you, you are still responsible for ensuring that all details are submitted on time.
Contrast and compare “doing it alone” verses working for a primary care recruitment agency such as Medical Staffing.
Local long-term work : Our commitment is to find you local, long-term contract work – no need to find work yourself, we do that for you.
Diary management : Enjoy full diary management. We manage the diary of our locum GPs so they know exactly when and where they are working.
Regular Pay : Paid on time and on a regular basis. As a locum GP working with Medical Staffing we pay within three days.
Because all of this work is taken care of for you, it leaves you free to simply turn up at your work location.
There are many benefits of working as a locum GP. It can provide some definite advantages depending on your lifestyle – the work home balance being one of them.
If you are ready to work as a locum GP, take a look at Medical Staffing current vacancies.