The new locum register in Wales will place a ‘significant burden’ on practice managers, a member of the National Welsh Practice Managers Committee has warned.
Launching this month, the All Wales Locum Register (AWLR) will make the country the first UK nation to introduce a list of GP locums.
All Welsh GP locums will be required to join the register to access the state-backed indemnity scheme which protects them against claims arising from clinical negligence for NHS work.
Business manager at Risca Surgery and North Celynen Practice in Newport Gareth Thomas said:
‘The AWLR is going to place a significant burden on practice managers who will now need to check the register to ensure the locum has joined and has the indemnity cover in place.’
He added that this could affect GP partners or GPs employed at practices who undertake occasional locum sessions for other practices but might not yet have joined the AWLR.
He also pointed out that a separate medical performers list already exists for all GPs.
‘Another bureaucratic hurdle’
Announcing the plans in March, the Welsh Government said the register would be available to practices as a ‘first port of call’ in recruiting locum cover.
However, Mr Thomas said it was ‘hard to see’ how the register would help with GP recruitment because ‘it’s seen by the profession as another bureaucratic hurdle’.
In March, the BMA warned that the new scheme will only increase the administrative burden and called the link to the indemnity scheme ‘completely unacceptable’.
‘Positive step forward’
RCGP Wales co-chair Dr Mair Hopkin said the register would be a ‘positive step forward’ in helping to ease the strain on the GP workforce and making it easier for practices to find available locums in their area.
Dr Hopkin said: ‘All too often GP practices struggle to recruit locum GPs when they need them most.
‘Not only does this mean that workload for other GPs in the practice increases, leading to high levels of stress and professional burnout, but unavoidably this also has a knock-on impact for patients who struggle to get timely appointments with their local practice.’
Additional reporting by Emma Wilkinson.