NHS England proposes setting a maximum rate for Locum doctors pay, based on a set of rates which may have some regional variation.
The bid to cap GP locum rates follows government announcements that fees will be capped for all agency staff, not just doctors, working in hospitals.
If NHS England succeeds in setting a rate they will likely also amend the electronic declaration system to include recording on the number of instances where a practice pays a locum doctor more than the maximum indicative rate.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey suggested that implementing caps would potentially be against competition law. He argues that efforts should instead be directed towards increasing capacity within practices.
It has been reported that GP Locum rates have increased by over 5% nationally in the last year, while GP partner income has fallen by 25% over the last 10 years.
Is this a move to push the ever increasing wave of newly qualified GPs choosing to Locum as a career back towards being Partners? Shouldn’t they be trying to make Partnership more appealing instead?
This is a view agreed by Dr Peter Swinyard, chairman of the Family Doctor Association who said, “There is no incentive whatsoever to be a partner in general practice right now because you carry all the risk and all the blame and none of the money. Until partnership incomes rise well above the level we pay our salaried doctors, we will never recruit people into partnership and we will always be struggling to find salaried doctors and locums to fill the gaps.”
The proposals for now do not prevent locums and practices agreeing the appropriate rate for work undertaken.