Why locum doctors are crucial to the NHS

Over the last decade attitudes towards locum doctors have changed. 10 years ago, locum doctors were often perceived as less important than their permanent counterparts and not “proper” doctors.Today the opinion couldn’t be more different. 

Female DoctorOn a typical day as many as 3,500 locums are working shifts across England & Wales hospitals and it is widely recognised that these doctors are the glue that binds the NHS together.  There are very few, if any, hospital trusts that don’t rely on locums as part of their workforce, which shows just how important they have become.

So what’s caused the increase in demand and change of attitude?

With an ever-expanding UK population, the increased demand for NHS services has created a number of shortage areas such as A&E and geriatric medicine where there simply aren’t enough permanent doctors available.  Combine that with a rise in conditions such as diabetes, cancer and age-related illnesses – it’s no surprise that the demand for services often outstrips the number of workers available. 

Locum doctors are invaluable in ensuring the smooth running of NHS and helping to provide continuity of care for patients.  Not only this, but in high-pressured environments such as emergency departments, locums are able to offer reprieve to permanent doctors who have been working long shifts by offering a new burst of energy and a fresh set of eyes.

Some specialist doctors are particularly rare and hard to find, which is another area where locum doctors help fill the shortage while departments look for full-time members of staff to fill the position.

The European Working Time Directive is also another contributor to the importance of locum doctors, since a larger workforce than before is needed to treat the same number of patients due to 48 hour working week restrictions.

Furthermore, even with the best workforce planning, it is very difficult to account for last minute absence – yet another area where locums are needed in order to prevent disruption to the health service.

RIG Locums is a leading NHS approved doctors recruitment agency.  If you are looking for your next locum doctor job, call us on 0800 690 6044 and we will be delighted to help you find the perfect role.