GP locum bookings have doubled from September 2021 to September 2022, according to the National Association of Sessional GPs (NASGP).
The NASGP’s statistics from its locum booking platform, LocumDeck, showed that bookings in May 2022 were the highest they have ever been since the platform launched in 2016.
Although the actual figures are commercially sensitive, the NASGP said it is at its highest ever membership and subscription totals, with membership increasing 79% over the last 12 months.
The latest data released by NHS Digital showed a decrease in the headcount of GP regular locums, dropping by 542 from 2,238 in July 2021 to 1,696 in July 2022.
But NASGP chair Dr Richard Fieldhouse pointed out that the data is for England only, and includes the caveat: ‘All GP figures exclude ad-hoc locums’.
He explained he would expect ad-hoc locums to be ‘the great majority of locums’.
He said: ‘In fact, is there even such a thing as a regular locum? Surely, that’s an oxymoron – locums are nearly always classed as temporary. A “regular” locum for all sorts of practical, legal, tax, pension reasons should be called “salaried”.’
Dr Fieldhouse said the doubling of bookings is due to ‘a whole combination of factors’, including ‘more practices needing locums because of increased patient post-Covid demand’, as well as more locums and practices joining the booking platform.
NASGP has partnered with NHS organisations in Gloucestershire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and the Frimley area, and Hertfordshire and Essex.
All Gloucestershire practices have signed up to book locums through the LocumDeck platform, and over 40% of all practices in the UK belong to NASGP/LocumDeck.
A version of this story was initially published on our sister title Pulse.