Top tips for newly-qualified GPs from our CMO

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We know that as a newly-qualified GP you’re excited about where your career might take you and may also feel apprehensive about some of the considerable tasks ahead, from revalidation to appraisals and compliance! Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Caroline Rogers, knows exactly what you’re going through and has some top tips to share!

Dr. Rogers has over 10 years’ experience supporting doctors with their performance, developing their skills and working with organisations to meet CQC regulatory requirements. As a trained appraiser, Caroline has a comprehensive and invaluable understanding of the challenges newly-qualified GPs may experience throughout their career and is a great source of advice and guidance for those considering locum work.

Caroline’s top tips for newly-qualified GPs:

1. Keep an ongoing record of your CPD (continuous personal development)

This is important when collecting evidence for your yearly appraisal, as you must demonstrate an ongoing dedication to developing your skills and expertise to support your career progression.

Keep a record of any courses you attend, web pages you’ve used for learning and contributions to peer support groups, etc., as this will play a key part in demonstrating to your appraiser that you are fit to continue practicing and that your license should be revalidated.

2. Ensure all certificates and records are kept up to date

To quickly gain access to the best locum opportunities, it is important you make sure all certificates and records are kept up to date. We now ask all GPs to complete Basic Life Support training annually and Safeguarding Adults Level 3 training every three years in addition to our other compliance support services.

We understand that keeping on top of your admin can be a time-consuming task on top of your already busy schedule, that’s why we offer support with your compliance by making it as easy as possible. We have digitised the process and condensed it into a simple four-part process so you can stay organised in just a few clicks using our online compliance portal.

3. Read the doctor’s handbook

It is important to make sure you remain familiar with best practices and are ready to face any scenario. When working in a fast-paced environment, it is easy to get caught up in administration as you go from patient to patient and sometimes it’s a good idea to take a moment to slow down and refamiliarise yourself with the core principles of locum GP work.

4. Keep in touch with colleagues or other newly-qualified GPs

It is important to stay connected with your colleagues and organise regular catch-ups to discuss cases, exchange experiences and talk about your development. Working as a locum GP can be both challenging yet rewarding and it is advised you seek support from your peers and learn from each other. Caroline’s aim at Key Medical Services is to try and help you approach these challenges in the most time-effective way possible and she would like, in the future, to offer our GPs the option to develop a ‘buddy’ or mentoring system amongst our community.

5.  Stay organised and prepared for anything

It is important to remember that we are only human and that accidents and mistakes happen! The best way to cope with them is to be prepared and know what the appropriate procedure is to deal with them.

Check with your specific practice or facility as they will have their own procedures in place, but in the unfortunate event of a complaint, Caroline is here to offer her guidance and support. Caroline will talk to you individually to help you reflect and learn from any negative feedback that may arise and identify how you can improve and any relevant training opportunities required to prevent further incidents.

If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to source assignments, our team of medical staffing 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 avoid GP burnout

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Today, mental health is recognised as equally important as physical health and healthcare professionals deserve just as much mental health support as their patients. Given the fast-paced nature of healthcare, the strain on GPs, nurses, clinicians and other healthcare professionals’ mental health can be intense, but with more awareness and support in the workplace, the rates of burnout can be reduced.

In 2020, the British Medical Association (BMA) surveyed 1,300 GPs and reported that 53% were currently experiencing work-related mental health problems including burnout, anxiety, stress, depression or emotional distress. A lack of mental health support in healthcare has also been linked to high staff turnover and GPs leaving clinical employment altogether to pursue non-clinical work such as research, consultancy, teaching, or charity engagements. If left unchecked, GP burnout and mental health could impact healthcare facilities’ ability to provide high-quality patient care by reducing the number of available GPs for appointments and referrals.

Here at Key Medical Services, we are dedicated to providing our GPs, nurses and clinicians with as much support as possible with their mental health, particularly when navigating the numerous stress triggers that can lead to burnout. We are also committed to providing our clients help in reducing GP burnout and the subsequent impact this could have on the level of patient care they can provide.

Definition of ‘burnout’ in medicine

‘Burnout’ is the term used to refer to a state of mental, emotional and physical exhaustion caused by ongoing involvement in highly-pressurised situations. The mental toll that being responsible for large numbers of patients can be immense and have far-reaching effects for GPs and clinicians. Burnout can lead to a lack of motivation, professional accomplishment, and the feeling of being unable to ‘give’ anymore.

Physician burnout symptoms

In a profession that seeks to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health in others, it’s important that the same duty of care be extended to GPs and healthcare professionals. Some signs and symptoms to look out for as an employer includes:

  • Poor concentration and memory
  • Fatigue, tiredness or insomnia
  • Increased mistakes or indecisiveness
  • Frustration or irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Isolation or alienation
  • Unenthusiastic behaviour
  • Avoidance of phone calls and delegation

How to support GPs’ mental health and prevent burnout

One of the defining aspects of GP burnout is giving too much time, care and effort for too little recognition or support. Key Medical Services is dedicated to ensuring that our GPs have access to the mental health and career support they need in the following areas:

  • Career advice: we offer ongoing career guidance and feedback to ensure GPs that every assignment contributes to their long-term career goals
  • Senior-level insight: our Chief Medical Officer, Dr Caroline Rogers is available to offer guidance on complaints procedures, appraisals, CPD, and much more
  • Professional understanding: We understand that GP burnout is a reality and mental health is under exceptional strain at this time. Our consultants will help to support you in any way they can. If you are experiencing difficulty, check out the NHS’s supportive portal: Our NHS People where you can find lots of online resources to support you at this time.

If you would like to discuss staffing issues, find flexible resourcing solutions that suit the individual needs of your organisation, or just get have some questions answered, Sarah, is happy to speak with you.


What to expect on your first day as a KMS GP

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You’ve completed all of the paperwork and registered with Key Medical Services, chosen the assignments that suit you, and are ready and raring to go. However, navigating your first few days as a locum can be confusing as they can differ quite significantly from a permanent position. Your first assignment could, understandably, be quite a nerve-wracking experience, and we know you’ll want to hit the ground running as you take this important step in your career.

As your partner in achieving your short and long-term career goals, Key Medical Services has created a guide to help you tackle the ins and outs of your first day as a locum GP. After reading this guide you will have a solid understanding of what to expect including:

  • How to prepare for your assignment
  • How to set up and introduce yourself
  • How to perform your duties on the day
  • The paperwork you’ll need to complete
  • How to cope with the unexpected

How to prepare

Like many things in life, when it comes to your first day on the job as a locum GP, preparation is key.

Agreeing to the assignment:

One thing to be aware of is the importance of your assignment confirmation and the ‘Agreed Terms of Work’.

The assignment confirmation is an email you will receive from your Key Medical Services GP consultant outlining the date, time, location, and whom to report to on the day of your assignment. Depending on the type of rota management, you might have the confirmation well in advance, or if it is a last-minute arrangement, for example covering sick leave, you may receive it the day or night before the assignment.

The Agreed Terms of Work or Engagement refers to the contract between you and the trust or independent practice that outlines what will be required and expected of you from your assignment with them.

Preparation:

Spending some time preparing the night before your first day will, in turn, save you time on the day and help calm any nerves or anxiety you may be feeling. Some things to prepare:

Pack your bag

As you’ll be working in a facility you’re unfamiliar with, it’s a good idea to bring your own equipment as it will save you time looking for it. Some of the basics you should include in your bag are:

  • Your confirmation letter (the email we sent to you confirming your assignment)
  • Your Key Medical Staffing timesheet which you can download here
  • Simple stationery like pens and notepads
  • Your KMS ID badge (check the local Infection control policy on whether to wear this or display it on your desk)

Decide what you’re going to wear and have these laid out

Many practices will expect you to dress smartly, choosing your outfit the night before will save you precious time in the morning and ensure you’re on time for your assignment.

Google the directions

Working out what route you’re going to take the night before will save you a lot of time and hassle in the morning. It will be easier to ensure you arrive on time if you drive rather than use public transport, but you should also aim to give yourself 15-20 minutes extra to accommodate any additional traffic you may come across during rush hour.

Ideally you should aim to arrive 20-30 minutes early to accommodate some time for orientation and introductions.

Check the parking situation

You can check online or contact your Key Medical Services GP consultant to just check where you’re expected to park. You may need to be added to a system, given a temporary parking permit or sticker to display.

Pack a lunch

As you don’t really know what to expect from your assignment, you may not have time to track down the canteen or step out for a bite. Packing a balanced lunch and snack will help you face a full day prepared.

On the day: how to set up

You’re all prepped and ready to go, you’ve made your way to the facility and now it’s time to get to know your environment with some introductions and orientation.

Introduce yourself

Make your way to reception and introduce yourself; somebody should be able to show you around, introduce you to some of the GPs, show you the stationery cupboard, lockers, canteen, etc.

Whilst you’re being shown around and have located where you’ll be working, is a good time to ask some initial questions about how the facility handles its processes. Some good questions to ask include:

What is the extension number for reception?

Where is the panic button?

How do I call patients in?

What is the process for requesting blood tests and where are these done (on site or local hospital)?

How do I order X-rays and Ultrasounds?

How do you make a referral for physiotherapy and counselling, or to a consultant etc.?

Where are the important forms kept (I.e. MED3, MATB1 and maternity exemption forms)?

Some facilities will provide you with a locum induction pack which should explain how they operate and facilitate their locum clinicians, including:

Local ID

Some facilities may require you to have your own local ID in order to access certain areas or systems. Check at reception if this is the case.

Systems refreshers

Before your first patient, take some time to refresh yourself with the system in use which may vary from facility to facility. Some trusts or independent practices require you to have your own account registered on the system before you can use it, so make sure you have your login information to hand throughout the day.

Make sure the room is stocked

Even with your well-stocked doctor’s bag it is important to make sure your appointment room is fully stocked with prescription pads, tongue depressors, blood pressure measuring equipment, etc.

Managing your assignment and your duties

Details of what is expected of you from your assignment should usually be shared with you prior to the assignment or shift or agreed upon in the Terms of Work. It is important to be clear about what you can and cannot do in the timeframe given as not all GPs work the same way.

Some best practices to bear in mind:

Time keeping

Try to keep patient consultations within the allotted time and have five minutes between them for any follow-up paperwork, tidying up or administrative tasks.

Ask questions if you are unsure

If something arises from a consultation that you don’t know the answer to, you’ll need to be confident enough to ask for help. Reception or other GPs will probably be able to assist thus improving the level of care you administer. This could be particularly important if a patient is following up on a previous consultation and requires information from you.

Record keeping

Record keeping is a very important aspect of locum work. If you are only booked in for one or a few assignments at the same facility, another GP may have to pick up where you left off with a patient. This means you will need to make detailed patient notes on the system, clearly outlining your reasons for your management of the patient.

This is incredibly important if there are any complaints from the patient or the facility, in which case all records made during the appointment or assignment will be used as a means of resolving the complaint.

Be organised

This is particularly important when it comes to diary management and patient care. Making sure you know where you’re supposed to be and when is essential. Getting into the habit of having a diary will help you track your assignments and sessions as your career as a locum takes off.

Being organised during your consultations will also help you stay on top of your timekeeping.

Be patient

Being calm and patient during a locum assignment can be very difficult, particularly when you’re dealing with a new environment and technology or systems. Go through your consultations steadily so you can listen to the patient, carry out appropriate actions and make clear notes in the system.

Paperwork

Setting yourself up as a locum GP will probably have made you no stranger to paperwork. You’ll need the following documents prior to the confirmation of your assignment.

You will also need to keep a track of your paperwork during your assignment, this includes authorised claims forms (which you should be able to get by speaking to reception) so that the hospital can cover your travel expenses, and a timesheet for payment of services which you should bring with you to the assignment.

Submitting timesheets:

Submitting a timesheet authenticates your right to be paid for the shifts and assignments you have completed. As your partner in general practice, we can offer you full diary management as well as admin support, ensuring you receive payment in a quick and timely manner for your hard work.

Download timesheet here

When should I submit a timesheet?

You should complete one timesheet per week worked and submit on the last working day of the week (Monday to Sunday).

Please be aware that timesheets received after 23:59 will be rolled into the following working day’s payroll.

Who do I send my timesheet to?

Please send your timesheets to:

Email: info@keymedicalservices.co.uk

Or you can post your timesheet to: Key Medical Services Ltd., Suite B, Second Floor, 400 Capability Green, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 3LU

A couple of points to remember:

  • You’ll need Adobe Reader to be able to view the timesheet document
  • Please only use black ink
  • Complete in full, ensuring your name, site name, date, start and finish times, breaks and total units worked are fully completed
  • Remember to obtain authorised signatures for all the shifts you’ve worked, (unauthorised signatures can delay payments as further confirmations of your shift may be required prior to payment)
  • When emailing your timesheet, please send your timesheet directly to the timesheet processing team on the above email addresses to ensure prompt payments
  • Please copy your GP consultant into the same email, but be aware that sending your timesheet only to your GP consultant will delay payment

If you have any problems or questions about timesheets or payments, please speak to your GP consultant.

Download timesheet here

How to handle the unexpected

It’s a fact of life – particularly in primary care – that things sometimes don’t go according to plan. Being adaptable and taking on feedback will go a long way in helping you cope with the unexpected.

What happens if additional patients are booked on?

Additional patients can be booked on to the assignment easily and it’s important to draw a firm line between what you will and will not do, and what you can and cannot do. Often the administrative staff filling in the rota may not know your exact experience and specialisms and may offer additional patients that you may not be qualified to see. Make sure you are clear about this or contact your GP consultant to discuss the matter.

If a problem occurs on your assignment

As you know, primary care is a fast-paced environment and issues can often occur. If you experience a problem whilst on your assignment, contact your Key Medical Services GP consultant and report the issue to the complaints’ manager, or corresponding title, at the facility as soon as you can to initiate the complaints handling process.

Each trust or independent practice’s complaints handling process will be different, but you should ask to be informed of the proceedings at every stage.

If a patient makes a complaint

Locum work can be incredibly rewarding and offer attractive remuneration; however, it does expose you to an increased likelihood of patient complaints because locums:

  • Are less well-known than permanent clinicians
  • May be given inadequate induction
  • Are less familiar with internal systems or technology
  • May experience difficulty accessing patients’ notes or records
  • Don’t receive regular feedback
  • Don’t always receive much support or guidance from permanent staff at the facility

In your Terms of Agreement contract there should be an outline of the complaints procedure and how this will be communicated with you. Accurate record keeping of all patient interaction is key here to establishing evidence of what transpired and how this should proceed.

If you experience any of these issues, do not hesitate to contact your GP consultant who can help you through the complaints or escalation process. Our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Caroline Rogers is also here to help you navigate and learn from any complaints should they arise.

Getting future assignments:

We can fill and manage your diary quickly and simply. We are best placed to help you find optimal positions in independent practices where exceptional clinical judgement is admired and encouraged. To discuss further assignments, speak to your GP consultant.

Key Medical Services is here to support you through your career as a locum and personal development with mentoring, feedback, and on-going compliance support so you can focus on the job at hand. We welcome feedback and suggestions to improve our own service; if you would like to share anything with use please contact us on the information below.

Email: info@keymedicalservices.co.uk

Key Medical Services Ltd., Suite B, Second Floor, 400 Capability Green, Luton, Bedfordshire, LU1 3LU


FAQs for newly-qualified GPs

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Newly-qualified GPs who choose to pursue locum work are entering a world of flexibility and invaluable learning and development opportunities. But you may find it hard to find guiding information about what it takes to be a locum, what the work is like, and the specific ins and outs of life as a locum.

When you partner with Key Medical Services, you not only have access to the top assignments available, but you will always have a GP consultant by your side to support you and answer your questions. Key Medical Services is unique in having a Chief Medical Officer, Dr Caroline Rogers, who has over 10 years’ experience supporting doctors with their performance and developing their skills. As a trained appraiser, Caroline also has a comprehensive understanding of what you’re going through and what challenges and triumphs you face, so you will be in good hands!

To make your journey as a newly-qualified GP easier, we have put together a list of FAQs for you to read through to gain a solid understanding of what to expect as a locum and what career choices are ahead.

FAQs for newly-qualified locum GPs:

What is a locum GP?

A locum GP is a fully-trained GP who is on the GP Performers list and who takes on flexible contract work rather than a permanent position with a practice or facility. It allows you to pick and choose which opportunities you want to take based on your own criteria; this could be geared towards specific development opportunities, fitting assignments around additional training or children, or many other scenarios!

What can newly-qualified GPs expect to earn as a locum?

Your take-home pay will depend on a number of variables, such as the number of assignments you completed that week or month, the rate of pay agreed, etc. It will also depend on the organisation you work with and how you negotiate your day rate.

When you work with Key Medical Services, you will gain access to some of the best rates of pay available for locum work.

How many hours do locum GPs work a week?

It’s completely up to you!

Locum work allows you control over your working hours and, essentially, your earnings. If you would like to pick up extra shifts at any point that is possible, or if you would prefer to spread your assignments out to fit around your studies, personal commitments or talks and conferences, etc., that is also an option.

How are locum GPs paid?

The way that you are paid will depend on whether you are registered as a limited company or with an umbrella company. Speak to your accountant on which would work best for you.

When you partner with Key Medical Services, we make sure you are suitably rewarded for your hard work and paid in a timely manner. Our efficient digital timesheets make it quick and easy for you to submit one after each assignment you complete, authenticating your right to be paid as soon as possible.

What documents do I need and where can I find them?

To complete your locum assignments and get paid, you will need a timesheet and these can be found here. You will also need to have some of your compliance documentation with you and will need to ensure it is all up to date. We have a wide variety of information about compliance admin on our online portal here.

What are the processes at the surgery?

When you begin your shift, make sure you head to reception and introduce yourself. Someone will be available to show you around, introduce you to members of the team and it is a good opportunity for you to ask some initial questions about how the facility handles its processes.

What happens if I need to work longer than my contracted assignment?

It is important to try and keep your patient consultations within the allotted time and have five minutes between them to allow for any follow-up paperwork. But if you have any problems or questions when filling out your timesheets or if you’ve worked for more than what was agreed, please speak to your consultant at Key Medical Services who will guide you through the process.  

The surgery wants me to do additional work, what do I do/ who should I speak to?

Please speak to your consultant at Key Medical Services as we’re here to manage your diary and help you find optimal positions and to discuss any further assignments.

What happens if a complaint is made?

In your Terms of Agreement contract there should be an outline of the complaints procedure and how this will be communicated with you. If you experience an issue, please contact your consultant who can help you through the complaints and escalations process, our CMO is also available to guide and support you in this process.

Can I work as a locum even when I have a permanent salaried job?

Whilst working as a locum GP is an alternative to occupying a permanent position at a hospital or general practice, you can also pick up additional shifts around your permanent role. As a locum, you can cover last-minute shifts, support departments during times of increased demand as well as more long-term opportunities, such as maternity cover.

What do I do if I can’t make my locum assignment?

If you are unable to make your assignment it is crucial to let your GP consultant at Key Medical Services know as soon as possible so we can take the necessary action.

When will I get paid?

Our digital timesheets enable us to pay you quickly and efficiently for the assignments you complete.  You are required to complete one timesheet per practice, i.e., if completing two assignments at two different practices, you would need to submit two different timesheets. Please ensure all timesheets are submitted by the last working day of the week (Monday to Sunday). We can ensure that you will receive payment within 48-72 hours after receipt of your timesheet(s).

Please note that timesheets received after 23.59 will be rolled into the following working day’s payroll.

What do I do if I can’t get my timesheet signed?

If you’re struggling to obtain authorised signatures for the shifts you’ve worked please speak to your specialist consultant at Key Medical Services, as they will be able to help.

If I’m running late who do I contact?

It is important to prepare for your assignment the night before, including travel arrangements, ensuring your bag contains your equipment and a packed lunch to avoid being late. Check the directions and parking situation beforehand if you’re travelling by car and if you do find that you are running behind, contact your consultant at Key Medical Services as soon as possible.

If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to source assignments, our team of specialist consultants would be 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.

The benefits of working as a locum GP with Key Medical Services

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Becoming a locum GP has many benefits including greater flexibility, exposure to more variety – and often higher rates of pay! If you decide locum work is for you then Key Medical Services provides access to the top assignments available and a unique support structure to help guide the course of your career.

We have created a guide to help you make an informed decision about becoming a locum GP with Key Medical Services so that you can appreciate the challenges of being a locum GP and how we can help you meet those challenges.

What does being a locum GP mean?

As a locum GP you would be offered contracted, ‘temporary’ positions with trusts, private facilities, and NHS services.

The advantages of working as a locum GP with Key Medical Services

Flexibility

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 completing assignments at multiple practices, this type of flexibility is available to locum GPs.

Reduced administrative tasks

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.

At Key Medical Services, our GP consultants can fill your diary with relevant assignments, saving you time and reducing your administrative burden, allowing you to concentrate on the parts of the job you enjoy. We can also help you target your assignments towards your professional development.

Higher income

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.

What’s more, once the work is completed and you have submitted your timesheet, you can receive payment within 48-72 hours.

Grow your experience

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!

Access to insightful support and guidance

Locum GPs can sometimes feel professionally isolated but Key Medical Services’ Chief Medical Officer, Dr Caroline Rogers, has created a truly supportive service for locum GPs with peer support opportunities, mentoring, update sharing, and assistance when difficulties arise. She has worked as and alongside a team of GPs so she is acutely aware of the strains and pressures GPs currently face.

 There is support available at Key Medical Services to help with:

  • Appraisals
  • Training and certification
  • Peer support through the locum GP community
  • Monthly outreach and insights
  • Complaints procedures and identifying learning needs

Find out more about how our CMO is helping our locums GPs develop their careers.

How to become a locum GP with Key Medical Services

If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to 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.


How to become a locum GP with Key Medical Services

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Becoming a locum GP through Key Medical Services can be a very rewarding move at any stage in a GP’s career. New GPs may choose locum work while they decide where they want to settle, some GPs make a career of being a locum, established GPs in permanent positions can take on locum work to enjoy greater flexibility and explore different avenues, and more experienced GPs can become locums as a way to semi-retire so that 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 with Key Medical Services is a relatively simple process, and we’ve broken it up into three easily digested steps:

Three simple steps to becoming a locum GP:

1. Register with the GMC and as a limited company

In order to begin your career as a locum GP with us, you must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) as a GP and be on a GP performers’ list, just as you would 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.

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. Register with Key Medical Services

Once you have decided to operate as a locum, you will be looking for assignments and opportunities, and Key Medical Services is the perfect choice of partner to find you assignments that fit your lifestyle. 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.

Getting in touch with Key Medical Services will give you the benefits of our experience as we have built relationships with independent practices and local authorities around the UK. We take the time to assess your requirements and match your skills with the optimal position for you. We can also assist with your with administrative tasks, help you stay on top of compliance requirements, and help you quickly ‘onboard’ from assignment to assignment.

We’ve made the registration process as simple as possible and can be completed in just a few minutes and from there quickly enjoy assignments that align with your career goals!

Register here

3. Enjoy flexible assignments and develop your career!

Key Medical Services align the roles we source with your career goals and skill development so that you are always building towards your future. We provide multiple assignments based on your availability, and from there all you have to do is say which ones you’d like to take on!

What to expect from life as a locum:

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, talks and conferences, relaxing or focusing on your own health and wellbeing, etc.

Locum work means you can expect to see and help a wider variety of patients, but does mean that you won’t establish long-term patient rapport, however, many find the experience exciting, ever-changing and fulfilling.

If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to source assignments, our team of specialist consultants at Key Medical Services would be 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.

Considerations for appraisals for newly-qualified GPs

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One thing many newly-qualified GPs worry about is appraisals, but we’re here to help you through your career and lend support and guidance where you need it.

Every locum GP needs a General Medical Council (GMC) license to work in the UK. Revalidation of your right to practice happens every five years, following completion of annual appraisals, where all doctors have a professional responsibility to show that they remain up to date and fit to complete the work they undertake. Your license to practice depends on being recommended for revalidation, which in turn depends on satisfactory yearly appraisals. You cannot work as a GP without this.

As a newly-qualified GP, it is important to prepare for appraisals efficiently to avoid spending excessive amounts of precious time on them. When you partner with Key Medical Services, you gain access to ongoing support, guidance and advice designed to develop these skills and others that you need to comply with the professional standards set out by the GMC throughout your career. 

GP appraisals

As you will know, an appraisal is the process of facilitated self-review supported by information gathered from the full scope of your work. It is a designated time, once a year for you to get together with a trained colleague and review personal achievements, challenges, lessons learned, as well as your previous year’s personal development plan and objectives. The process can help you establish your long-term career ambitions and identify any training needs, whilst drawing up your self-development plans for the next year.

What will you need to complete your GMC annual appraisal?

At your appraisal it is important to provide a detailed description of the work you have performed as this enables the appraiser to understand the roles you complete along with the varying contexts. This includes a summary of the type of work undertaken and the length of each assignment.

Key Medical Services can help you with collecting some of the supporting information that you need to provide. The evidence consists of:

  • Examples of continuing professional development e.g. attending courses, contribution to peer support groups, etc.
  • Quality improvement activity
  • Significant events
  • Feedback from colleagues
  • Feedback from patients
  • Review of complaints and compliments

Key Medical Services is developing peer support networks to help GPs: keep up to date with guidance and new developments and share their CPD learning. These groups will promote case discussions which can be used as Quality improvement activities and help doctors to avoid professional isolation by having colleagues to call on for their Colleague feedback questionnaires.

We provide support if a significant event or complaint should occur, and our Chief Medical Officer can help with reflection on the lessons learnt from these occurrences. We are developing processes for routinely collecting feedback from clients to provide you with evidence of good performance.

Tips for newly-qualified locum doctors:

It is important to continually gather evidence when working so that you are prepared for your yearly appraisals well in advance.

It’s a good idea to keep a CPD (continuous professional development) log so that you document all your learning as you complete it, and to write a quick reflection at the time on how your experience will improve your practice. You will then have it ready to present with ease when it comes to your appraisal, rather than having to go back and remember the training you have completed throughout the year!

If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to source assignments, our team of specialist consultants would be 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.




5 finance tips for GP locums

Last updated on: Published by: Chanelle Wate 0

Working as a locum GP through Key Medical Services can be a very rewarding move at any stage of your career and comes with a number of benefits, including greater flexibility over your working schedule, a wider variety of assignments to choose from and more opportunity to gain diverse work experience.


As locums operate as contractors, one of the most attractive benefits are the higher remunerations and rates of pay than permanent positions. If you are a partner or employed GP looking to supplement your income, or a retired GP looking for occasional work, or generally seeking a better work-life balance, locum shifts can be invaluable.


Although there are many good reasons to start a career as a locum GP, the work does not come without its challenges. High locum pay is counterbalanced with having to complete your own tax returns, manage your invoices and make pension contributions yourself. Unlike full-time work these deductions aren’t automatically taken from your monthly salary and the admin that comes with locum work can be time-consuming.


It is important to bear these financial responsibilities in mind but it should not put you off becoming a locum GP, as many that have taken the leap find that the pros outweigh the cons.

Below we’ve compiled a list of five things you need to know about your finances and with these considerations in mind, you should be able to accelerate your locum career!

5 things you should know about finances

1. You can control your pay

Unlike full-time doctors with a regular payslip, locum GPs are paid based on an agreed hourly, daily or weekly rate. With Key Medical Services you’ll be paid once your assignment has been completed and upon receipt of a signed timesheet, rather than at the end of the month. You also have the flexibility to choose to work more or less, so your earnings are completely in your control. If you want to ramp up your earnings one month, all you have to do is complete more assignments!

2. You will also need to research the taxation of locum doctors

All locum GPs must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) as a practitioner or GP. Then, you will need to register as an independent limited company or set yourself up as self employed. In order to find out which way would suit you more or offer more tax efficiency, speak to an accountant who will be able to advise you.

3. Tracking expenses

As a locum GP there are a lot more expenses you incur which can be claimed back against your earnings, which will reduce the tax you pay. As your employment status is that of a contractor, you can claim expenses such as travel/ mileage, insurance, breakdown cover, courses, phone and internet bills and medical equipment.

Make sure you keep a record of any personal expenses you incur.

Working with Key Medical Services can ensure you’re paid faster

When you partner with Key Medical Services, we ensure you receive speedy payment after completing an assignment using our online digital timesheets portal. Simply fill out your timesheet with the relevant details such as your name, site name, date, start and finish times and the total amount of units worked. Once submitted, you have authenticated your right to be paid and we make sure it is received promptly.

Not only do we ensure you are suitably rewarded for your time, we also offer full dairy management as well as admin support.

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

Utilising the Covid Capacity Expansion Fund in General Practice

Last updated on: Published by: Chanelle Wate 0

To facilitate the government’s goal to vaccinate 44 million people within a five-month period, NHS England has issued the Covid Capacity Expansion Fund, a one-off fund over £150 million that can be used by general practice to support resourcing for their Covid-19 efforts.

Can the Covid Expansion Fund be used for locum GPs?

Originally issued in November 2020, the fund was created to expand general practice capacity by stimulating ‘the creation of additional salaried GP roles that are attractive to practices and locums alike’.

This initially raised concerns that locum GPs would be coerced into full-time salaried positions and that there would be lengthy, bureaucratic recruitment processes to fulfil the requirements of the fund. However, the British Medical Association has since confirmed that ‘the whole intent of the £150m is to provide support direct to practices with minimum bureaucracy in a high-trust manner to support them through the tough winter ahead’. This means that locum GPs can be brought on as efficiently as possible with minimal red tape, making them an invaluable resource to help support general practice at this time.

NHS England outlined that the fund should be used to support seven priorities in general practice:

  1. Increasing numbers of GPs and their patient appointment capacity.
  2. Supporting the establishment of the Covid Oximetry @home model, which involves the remote monitoring of patients with symptoms of Coronavirus.
  3. Establishing first steps in remotely identifying, monitoring and supporting patients with Long Covid.
  4. Maintain list of shielding patients and supporting clinically extremely vulnerable patients.
  5. Addressing backlog of patient appointments including chronic disease management, routine vaccinations and immunisations.
  6. Making progress towards learning disability health checks, with the ambition that all CCGs will reach a target of 67% by March 2021.
  7. Creating the opportunity to offer backfill for staff absences where the individual was unable to work remotely.

Locum GPs provide a cost-effective and flexible way to support full-time healthcare professionals in achieving these seven priorities for general practice in this time. This is because locum GPs can be deployed at speed and can handle a wide range of systems and processes, all while maintaining high-quality care for all patients.

Utilising the Covid Expansion Fund

The Covid Expansion Fund will be allocated to ICSs and CCGs and should average around £22,000 per practice. It should be used to fulfil these seven priorities and only used within general practice. Practices should be aware that It is a non-recurrent fund and should be used to only support resourcing for general practice up until the end of March 2021 and not beyond that date.

Finding locum GPs to support your practice

If you are a healthcare provider or GP practice in need of extra support sourcing exceptional GPs during the pandemic, Key Medical Services is pleased to offer fast and flexible solutions. Please get in touch to discuss your unique requirements and we will endeavour to provide bespoke solutions to suit your needs.

An outline of the COVID Capacity Expansion Fund

Last updated on: Published by: Chanelle Wate 0

In November 2020, NHS England released a document encouraging CCGs, GPs and general practice teams to maintain their efforts to keep patient access to general practice up to pre-Covid levels throughout the national lockdown. To achieve this, NHS England announced the release of the General Practice Covid Capacity Expansion Fund.

What is the COVID Capacity Expansion Fund?

The COVID Capacity Expansion Fund consists of £150m to be used exclusively in general practice, which works out as around £22,000 per practice. NHS England says the intention behind the fund is to provide support to practices who ‘are encouraged to use the fund to stimulate the creation of additional salaried GP roles’ which would be ‘attractive to practices and locums alike’.

There has been some confusion around whether this is intended to move locum GPs into salaried roles rather than offering them fixed-term contracts, but NHS England has since confirmed that the fund is designed to be executed with minimal bureaucracy and surgeries and practices should use the money to bring GPs into ‘substantive’ posts but are free to use the fund for locum GPs too.

Who can use the COVID Capacity Expansion Fund?

All ICSs and CCGs, general practice surgeries, other NHS and private facilities are entitled to access the fund and will be immediately allocated the funding. Although the fund is available to all general practice facilities, NHS England has stipulated some conditions:

Accessing the fund will be conditional on practices and PCNs continuing to complete national appointment and workforce data in line with existing contractual requirements. Where an individual practice is not yet accurately recording activity that is broadly back at its own pre-COVID levels, it is expected to do so as part of accessing the fund. CCGs should seek to understand and support the relatively small number of practices that are finding restoration of their activity most difficult.

How can it be used?

The fund can be used to expand a practice’s capacity up till the end of March 2021 and should not be used to support resourcing after that date.

NHS England has outlined that the fund will create useful staffing solutions by allowing:

  • Greater locum engagement
  • The creation of more salaried positions
  • Increased time commitments from existing staff
  • Support for GPs returning to work to aid COVID efforts

Not only will the increased resources allow for greater patient appointment capacity, it will also provide the opportunity for backfills for staff absences and to support backlogs.

How can I find locums to support my practice?

If you are a healthcare provider or GP practice in need of extra support sourcing exceptional GPs during the pandemic, Key Medical Services is pleased to offer fast and flexible solutions. Please get in touch to discuss your unique requirements and we will endeavour to provide bespoke solutions to suit your needs.