COVID-19 Vaccination Guide and FAQ

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With the exciting news that a COVID-19 vaccine has been approved by the UK, we thought it would be useful to answer some of your questions and provide a guide to the new vaccine.

1. Coronavirus vaccine research:

The UK government has approved the use of the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.

Is it safe?

Dr. June Raine from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has commented that no corners were cut and that the vaccine “meets rigorous high standards of safety, of effectiveness and of quality”, and that the “public can be confident” that the MHRA will be watching closely to ensure that during the vaccine rollout there is a good laboratory, clinical, and manufacturing practice.

Did Brexit impact the speed of the authorisation of the vaccine roll-out?

Dr. June Raine has also stated that the vaccine was authorised using provisions under European law which will continue to exist for the UK until 1st January 2021. The speed of which it progressed and was developed has been dependent on the availability of data, rigorous assessment and independent advice received.

2. How the vaccination works:

What are the side effects?

​Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, a British clinical pharmacologist and geneticist and NHS Chair of Pharmacogenetics at the University of Liverpool since 2007, has stated that the safety of the vaccine is similar to other vaccines. Even though this is a new vaccine, it has been rigorously tested with a study of 40,000 volunteers with very few complications.

What are the risks?

So far just over 1 in 1,000 people on average in the UK have died due to Coronavirus complications. The risk is even lower if you are young healthy, white or a woman. The scientists charged with monitoring the study haven’t reported any serious safety concerns.

3. The UK’s immunisation programme

Who will get the vaccine first?

The vaccination programme has been planned out in phases with the first phase aimed at immunising those in a risk category, which means those who are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19. This includes:

  • ​Residents in care homes for older adults and their carers
  • All those 80 years of age and over, frontline health and social care workers
  • 75 years and older
  • 70 years and older and clinically extremely vulnerable
  • All those 65 and older
  • All aged 16-64 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of serious
  • Disease or mortality
  • All those 60 years and over
  • All those 55 years and older
  • All those 50 years and older

Will, which Tier you live in make a difference to when you get the vaccine?

No, the government has stated that qualifying for the vaccination will be based on the above criteria.

Will there be enough vaccine?

The government have assured that 800,000 doses will be available next week but considerably more will be available in the New Year.

During our hot topic series our Head of Clinical Performance, Lorraine Gray, will be looking into a new subject each month, providing commentary and advice on pressing issues for clinicians. If you have any topics you would like to know more about, please get in touch.

A former RGN and Matron, Lorraine has over 10 years in senior executive roles in IUC and NHS 111 services and today leverages her operational and clinical experience offer balanced delivery solutions and insights for our clinicians.

If you have any further questions about the Coronavirus vaccine, PPE, or how you can source locum or clinician work in primary or acute care – or even via remote telemedicine working shifts – we would be happy to talk to you about it!

A big “Welcome” from our new CMO!

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Here at Key Medical Services we’d like to introduce you to our new Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Caroline Rogers, who has written a welcome for all doctors, locums and practitioners who use our services:

Hello, and welcome to Key Medical Services!

As your new Chief Medical Officer (CMO), my primary role is to help doctors develop their skills to deliver the best possible service to our clients, and, most importantly, provide the highest level of care to patients.

With over 10 years’ experience as a CMO supporting doctors with their work performance, developing processes, working with organisations to meet CQC regulatory requirements, and as a trained appraiser I have a comprehensive understanding of the challenges that you may experience throughout your career as a Doctor.

My aim is to try and help you to deal with these challenges in the most time effective way possible. I would like, in future, to offer our GPs:

  • Support with appraisals both collectively and individually
  • To create a log of doctors among the Key Medical Services team who are, or have been, appraisers, and who might be willing to help their colleagues on a voluntary basis
  • To develop a ‘buddy’ or mentoring system amongst the Key Medical Services GP community
  • Monthly newsletter outreach highlighting training topics, safety alerts, and other topical information that may be useful in a ‘hot topics’ series
  • Greater support with providing evidence of training in certain mandatory topics

Training and Evidence:

You are probably aware that more and more GP Surgeries and organisations within General Practice are asking for evidence of training in certain mandatory topics. In particular, training in Basic Life Support and Safeguarding Children and vulnerable adults. Having these in place is also a requirement of the Care Quality Commission.

Key Medical Services will now ask all GPs to complete Basic Life Support training annually; and Safeguarding Children Level 3 and Safeguarding Adults Level 3 training every 3 years in addition to our other compliance support services.

Please can I therefore ask you, to send your certificates in these 3 topics to as soon as possible.

If you haven’t completed these trainings, you can access the relevant modules through your ‘Healthier Business Group’ account that Key Medical Services provides for all its doctors. If you need advice on how to go about it, please contact

Support, complaints and feedback

I am also here to provide support where needed in the event of a complaint or poor feedback, to help you to reflect and learn from any that may arise, and to identify possible training needs. I will occasionally contact individual doctors to discuss a complaint or piece of negative feedback and I may wish to discuss your last GMC appraisal summary and help you reflect for you next appraisal, as part of the review process.

All complaints in future, including if you wish to make a complaint, should be directed to You’re are also welcome to contact me if you feel you need my support, but please be patient in waiting for a response.

Key Medical Services is also looking at ways of improving the collection of feedback from doctors and healthcare providers to improve the services that we deliver. We now have a new designated email address for this: We would welcome your thoughts and views!

Finally, I wish you success in your future career in partnership with Key Medical Services and look forward to working with you going forward.

Best wishes,

Dr Caroline Rogers

The benefits of working as a Locum GP

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Becoming a locum GP is a rewarding move at any stage in a GP’s career; as a student, you can do locum work in between terms and exams to gain experience, established GPs can try locum work to enjoy greater flexibility and explore different avenues, and very experienced GPs can use locum work as a way to semi-retire as they can work as and when they choose.

But it is not a choice to be taken lightly! Locum work’s flexibility and greater remuneration may appear attractive, but many people may find they prefer the regularity and community aspects of being in a permanent position with a facility or practice.

As your partner in achieving your short and long-term career goals, Key Medical Services has created a guide to help you make an informed decision about becoming a locum GP by looking at some of the advantages and disadvantages in greater detail.

What is a locum GP?

A locum GP is a healthcare professional who is registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) as a practitioner or GP who chooses to take contracted, ‘temporary’ positions with trusts, private facilities, and NHS services. Through a simple process, they operate as either self-employed limited companies or use an umbrella company to company which will process admin and paperwork on their behalf.

The advantages of locum GPs


Locum work can afford you the freedom to choose where you work, for how long, and when you are available to work allowing you to fit assignments around your family, social life, studies, hobbies or vocational pursuits. 78% of locum GPs cite flexible working hours as a key reason to becoming a locum (Pulse GP Jobs Survey, 2015).

Whether you only want to work one day a week, on weekends, out of hours or you like the idea of working part-time for two different practices (earning a full-time salary) this type of flexibility is available to locum GPs.

Earn good money

As locums operate as contractors, they typically earn higher rates than permanent positions sometimes offer. This makes locum work a great way to supplement your income. If you are a partner or employed GP looking to supplement your income, or a retired GP looking for occasional work, locum shifts can be invaluable.

Grow your experience and network

Working as a GP locum is a great introduction into general practice outside of your training.  As you work in different roles within different primary care settings your personal network will grow, and you may find you enjoy one aspect and decide to specialise. It is a great opportunity to try things out and see what suits you.

Tax advantages

As a locum GP your employment status is that of “contractor” which means you can set yourself up as a business and some of your expenses (e.g. travel/mileage, training costs, equipment etc) have the potential to be a tax-deductible expense and can be offset against your earnings.

Reduced administrative duties

Whilst locums are expected to complete routine administration for each patient appointment and are advised to keep notes and records of their assignments in case of patient complaints, there is considerably less admin to complete than a permanent GP position would entail. This means locums have the freedom to focus on providing exceptional patient care.

Disadvantages of GP locum work

Lack of stability

There is no guarantee when it comes to locum work. Whilst there will always be opportunities available, they may not always be in a convenient locale to your home, or at the times when you want them. Whilst there is the upside of flexibility if you have a good network in place to find opportunities, when you start locum work it can be hard to establish this and the work might be irregular.

Fortunately, Key Medical Services can help you source top locum assignments that suit you, your career goals, and your lifestyle. We also offer admin and compliance support, as well as full diary management so you do not need to worry about gaps in your CV or pay.

‘Outsider’ feeling

It can be harder to build relationships with your co-workers and feel part of a team if you are constantly moving to different surgeries and practices. Although longer-term contracts are available, it can be difficult to connect with colleagues who see you as a short-term, or replaceable fixture.

The need to adapt quickly

As you can find yourself at lots of different facilities in a short space of time, you will need to be able to cope with different internal technologies and systems, this can be disorienting at first but tends to get easier with time and being comfortable with a wide range of systems can make you a more attractive clinician for better assignments.

How to become a locum GP?

If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to register as a limited company or source assignments, our team at Key Medical Services would be happy to guide you through the process and offer ongoing support through every new assignment. They can help you get your compliance levels up to 100% and help source the best locum opportunities that suit your career goals.

5 things to know as a newly qualified GP

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After the years of hard work, exams, and preparation, you have finally qualified as a GP. Firstly, congratulations! Secondly, if only that was it! On the contrary, there are quite a few things you still need to do and get to grips with before making your move into general practice. We have broken it down into five main areas to make it easier to get the right role for you, and to be completely on top of the necessary requirements and paperwork to make your life easier.

1. Join the NHS Performers List and receive your CCT

All newly qualified GPs wishing to administer primary care in the UK need to be on the NHS Performers List, which as of 2019 can be completed via the PCSE online portal. It is important to register to be on the list as it is assurance to the public that a GP or medical practitioner is up to date on their training and have passed the necessary background checks and language skills to administer care. Getting your application in as soon as possible will help you stay on top of the process.

In addition to getting on the NHS Performers List, you will also need to complete and get your Certificate of Completion of Training (CCT) from the General Medical Council (GMC). This confirms that you have completed an approved UK training programme and are eligible to register as a GP.

Once you have these two points completed you should be in a great position to start looking and applying for permanent or locum work.

2. Appraisals and revalidation in your first GP jobs

Once you have these two points completed you should be in a great position to start looking and applying for permanent or locum work.

Once you are in a role you should begin to put together evidence of learning and reflection for your appraisals and revalidation. It will be beneficial to collating this evidence if you can arrange to have your first appraisal roughly 10 – 18 months after receiving your CCT and every year from that point. Appraisals are an excellent way to gain constructive feedback about your performance and work out a plan of action for the next phase of your career or work out in which direction you want to go from there. You will usually cover the following in your appraisals:

  • Feedback from patients, management, and peers
  • Overview of any events taken part in
  • Continual professional development (CPD)

It is important to have this in mind early on when you start as it will make drawing together your evidence and points of interest much easier. Many argue that initially starting off as a locum GP will mean that you will see and be involved in a wider variety of environments and scenarios which will make drawing together evidence proving your adaptability, CPD and feedback much easier, but this is up to you.

When it comes to revalidation, you will need to contact the GMC to be allocated a date and an officer who will handle it. The revalidation process proves that you took part in those yearly appraisals and outlines the full scope of work you covered.

3. Stay organised

As a newly qualified GP you may be surprised by the increase in paperwork you will need to complete. This can be anything from patient paperwork to your own referrals and insurance reports. Finding a way to stay organised about it will help you form life-long habits that will prove invaluable in keeping your stress levels down in what can be a chaotic and stressful role. Keeping all your documentation in order and up to date will also help you when it comes to your compliance levels.

4. Indemnity and insurance

The GMC made it a requirement that all GPs have indemnity or insurance arrangements, the type and level of detail will depend on the position you take and the organisation you work for. Do not be put off by complicated explanations or processes, getting professional protection is an incredibly important step to ensuring protection for both yourself and your patients in case the unforeseeable happens.

5. Find your support

As when starting anything new, and particularly when starting a new job, it is important to identify what support is available to you. You colleagues will be an invaluable source of support, try not to be intimidated by their experience and see reaching out to them for guidance as a means of gaining insight. Many organisations offer work-based mentorship schemes that you can explore to make sure you do not feel isolated and under too much pressure.

GP career options

Many GPs struggle in the first few years as it can be overwhelming despite the years of training. Finding someone in your corner will help you face the challenges of delivering exceptional care to patients and build an incredible career. Getting in touch with a medical service like Key Medical Services, can open the door to more opportunities than you might have access to on your own. We can also support you with any paperwork you need and can guide you through the registration processes outlined above immediately after you have qualified.

If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to register as a limited company or source assignments, our team of professionals are happy to guide you in this time. They can help you get your compliance levels up to 100% and help source the best locum opportunities that suit your career goals.

How to become a locum GP

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Becoming a locum GP can be a very rewarding move at any stage in a GP’s career. Students can do locum work in between terms and exams to gain experience before or after placement years. Established GPs in permanent positions can become locums to enjoy greater flexibility and explore different avenues, and older GPs can become locums as a way to semi-retire as they can work as and when they choose. Indeed, the onset of Covid-19 encouraged a lot of brave retired practitioners to re-enter the locum market to help administer care for those affected by the virus. Becoming a locum is a relatively simple process, and we have broken it up into three easily digested considerations:

Three simple steps to becoming a locum GP:

1. Register as a limited company

To begin your career as a locum GP you must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) as a practitioner or GP, just like you would need to for a permanent position. From there, you will need to register as an independent limited company, which is the most tax-efficient way to work.

The process of setting up your own company and becoming an independent contractor is very simple and can be completed relatively quickly if you are organised and have all your documentation to hand. Once completed, you will be a director of your own company, which will mean being responsible for completing a small amount of additional admin every month. You will be responsible for you own tax and will need to be fiscally responsible in recording your expenses and keeping receipts.

2. Or register with an umbrella company

Some people prefer not to have so much responsibility as an independent contractor with a registered company and are more comfortable registering with an umbrella company which will process admin and paperwork on your behalf. However, registering with an umbrella company will impact your take-home pay as you will be paying tax through the PAYE system, national insurance contributions and paying a fee to the umbrella company itself.

Effectively, you will be an employee of the umbrella company who will process your earnings and make the necessary deductions. Although it is a more convenient way to get locum work, it is not a very tax-efficient way of working and is significantly less lucrative.

3. Source locum assignments

Once you have decided how you want to operate as a locum, you need to start sourcing assignments and opportunities. This is a very exciting moment in your career where you have free reign to decide what kind of work will suit your life and your career goals. Some considerations to make for this step in your journey to locum work are:

Create an online portfolio: This can be done either by making your own website that has your portfolio and up-to-date CV there for potential employers to consider or creating a well thought out professional profile on a social media site like LinkedIn to attract employers and showcase your experience and skills. LinkedIn also allows you to build a network that could potentially lead to locum working opportunities.

Get in touch with a locum medical services provider: Getting in touch with a specialist locum medical service provider will be an invaluable way to get the opportunities and assignments that suit you. They build relationships with NHS trusts, independent practices, local authorities, and hospitals around the UK and even internationally so they will be able to assess your requirements and match your skills with the optimal position for you. Recruitment consultants are also able to assist with your with administrative tasks, help you stay on top of your compliance, and help you quickly onboard from assignment to assignment.

Locum doctor salary expectations

As we have discussed, your take-home pay will depend on whether you registered as a limited company and essentially operate as an independent contractor, or if you registered with an umbrella company. On top of that, your day rate will differ depending on the organisation you work for. Typically, working in an independent practice will allow you, or your trusted medical recruitment consultant, to negotiate a higher fee.

What to expect from locum work?

Freedom and flexibility. You will have control over your working hours and can spread your assignments out to accommodate additional training, writing for a medical journal, attending or delivering speeches and talks and conferences, relaxing or focusing on your own health and wellbeing etc.

Locum work means you can expect to oversee many patients and help in different ways; however, locum work does not lend itself to seeing patients repeatedly. This can affect some locums as they miss out on the rewarding aspect of human rapport, however, others find it exciting, ever-changing, and fulfilling work.

If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to register as a limited company or source assignments, our team of professionals are happy to guide you in this. They can help you get your compliance levels up to 100% and help source the best locum opportunities that suit your career goals.