Suffolk Locum Service – a small good thing

We launched the Suffolk Locum Service towards the end of last year and there has been excellent take up from both practices and locums.

Thanks to Dr Nigel Gibbons and Penny Flack, who spent a great deal of time making this work, and also our colleagues at Lantum who provide the booking portal. It is a good example of collaboration across the Suffolk primary care network, with Suffolk GP Federation working alongside the east and west clinical commissioning groups and Suffolk LMC.

Why it matters 

Workforce issues are the main concern facing primary care and anything we can do to address this is to be welcomed. This offers a practice solution to help keep locums working in Suffolk, particularly with the following groups:

  • Retirees – senior GPs retiring is a great loss of highly skilled colleagues. The paperwork and admin associated with staying on the list is daunting and puts people off working post retirement. The locum portal addresses some of the admin associated with that and helps keep some in the workforce for a little longer.
  • New finishers – our excellent local GP training schemes are a great source of new GP colleagues. Anything that we can do to ease that transition from trainee to a locum sessional doctor is to be welcomed and will encourage them to stay local. We will be ensuring that they are fully aware of this as they are coming up towards the end of their training.
  • Locums working in Suffolk – there is competition for locums across the whole area.  Anything that we can do that makes locums’ lives easier is likely to help keep them working in Suffolk.

What is says about Suffolk general practice 

The fact that we have managed to get the system up and off the ground says a great deal about Suffolk general practice. It shows that we are organised and are taking practical steps to address a real problem , that we understand issues around locums and  that they are a valued part of our workforce. Other areas are taking steps to encourage GPs to work in their area and it is important that Suffolk keeps up with this. The Fed website has certainly attracted a few colleagues into Suffolk. Although the numbers are small they have made a considerable difference to the practices they are now working in.

Opportunities for growth  

As readers of my blogs will know, I have significant concerns about other areas of the workforce – in particular primary care nurses – and we are hoping to expand the locum service to include practice nurses, HCAs and even admin too. Locums and sessional doctors are often left out of planning  and development, which has always been very partner/practice centred. They are a considerable and increasing  part of our workforce so  it’s important we engage with them and make them feel part of the whole system. Having this list allows us to communicate with them as a group and the Fed is looking at providing additional development support to them.

For those of you who have not registered your practice, please do so via the Suffolk GP Federation website or contact Millie Tooke on 07864900881. Alternatively, you can email

Happy New Year to all!