I had the pleasure of being flown up to Newcastle on Thursday to speak to a group of locums about the joys of working in Locum Support Teams such as locum chambers. While I was there, I spoke to a charming VTS course organiser on how much actual training her AiTs received on how to work independently as a peripatetic locum in a multitude of practices. As expected, she acknowledged that most would be spending months to years working as locums. As expected, her AiTs were receiving no such training.
Working as a locum in multiple practices is different to working regularly in the same place. Unfamiliar surroundings; patients are always new; the patient’s records are nearly alwyas difficult to penetrate (access, quality, vaguaries of IT systems etc); we don’t know about the other GPs, so ‘handover’ needs to be robust – there must be a ‘succession of record’.
As a fresh pair of eyes, we are ideally placed to highlight areas of risk in the practice; working as part of a team, we can be empowered to spread best practice between practices and PCTs. For patients, we can provide a second opinion, a new way of looking their illness.
Considering the overall gigure for the number of locums is 25% of the workforce, the likelihood is that there will be a bulge in numbers at the post-training end of the curve. There needs to be debate, recognition, change and progress.