Locum consultants are employed to cover annual, study or sick leave of consultants in substantive posts, and also to provide cover for temporary vacancies. The length of appointments can vary from a few weeks when covering leave to several months.
The guidance on locum appointments states that they should be short term only, although it may not be possible to determine the duration of the appointment at the outset. Where a locum appointment extends beyond three months, the situation should be reviewed, and again at three-monthly intervals thereafter, and this requirement should be included in any appointment letter. The guidance is that locum consultant appointments should be limited to a maximum period of one year.
Locums have no automatic entitlement to be appointed to the substantive post when it is filled, because all consultant appointments are subject to the statutory consultant appointment procedures. Except for the differences detailed below, all sections of the Terms and Conditions of Service apply to locum appointments.
Locums who have never held a substantive NHS consultant post are paid at the first pay point of the salary scale, unless they have gained consultant level experience outside the NHS, in which case this should be taken into account when agreeing starting salary.
Locums who hold a substantive consultant post (either with the employer or with another NHS employer) and will continue to do so once the locum post comes to an end are paid at their existing pay point.
Locums who do not currently hold a substantive consultant post but who have held one in the past (e.g. retired consultants) are paid the equivalent of their most recent pay point (excluding distinction awards, discretionary points and clinical excellence awards) or, if they have not previously been employed under the 2004 contract, the rate of pay consistent with their calculated seniority.
When 12 months’ locum service has been completed (continuous or cumulative), the employer should assess whether the criteria for pay progression have been met. If part of the previous 12 months’ service has been for one or more other NHS employers, the current employer should seek assurance from previous employers as to whether the criteria have been fulfilled.
A locum consultant is appointed on the basis of agreeing to fulfil the existing job plan for the post. This job plan is open to review in line with the provisions for substantive consultant posts. Objectives should be agreed as part of the job planning process and locums should have the same access to resources e.g. for administrative support and continuing professional development, as other consultants.
- Terms and Conditions of Service (TCS), section 11
Code of practice on the appointment and employment of locum doctors available for Scotland.