Locum chambers toolkit

Chambers locums, freelance and agency: a comparison

Location: UK
Audience: GPs
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
Topics: Contracts

Our locum GP handbook outlined a number of pros and cons of working within different locum arrangements, as below:

Pros

Cons

Other considerations

Working as a sole trader

Most independence

Can retain whole fee with deductions only for tax and superannuation

Administrative burden: invoicing /superannuation

Professional isolation

Difficulties with access to education and SEA meetings (freelance/locum GPs need to engage with peer review for the purposes of appraisal and revalidation, therefore may be harder unless you are in a CPD/learning group)

Have to build up your own reputation and customer base when you start

If you employ any staff to help you, you must ensure you comply with employment law

Be certain that any work you undertake is correctly designated and treated as self-employment or employment

Working as a locum agency

Will help you find work

Can considerably reduce the administration involved in locum work

You only need to present your certificates once to the agency not to every practice

May limit your freedom to contact practices yourself in the future

Agency income is not pensionable under the NHS pension scheme

It is possible that you will be considered an employee when working for a locum agency

For further details please see the BMA’s guidance on the agency worker regulations

Joining chambers

Reduced administration

Support with education and appraisal

Less isolation

Advocacy of chambers manager protecting you from exploitation

Set fees mean no negotiations needed and may allow increased bargaining power

Provides you with a corporate identity if you are new to an area and have to build up your customer base

If operating under a legal structure which makes the chambers a single organisation, could increase your bargaining power with providers

Cons depend on the arrangements and legal structures in place

Will probably lose some independence

May be restricted to work exclusively with the chambers

% of fee goes to chambers

May be constrained by fee structure (which is linked to a set workload)

Can’t accept work outside the chambers;

May have to agree to work a minimum number of sessions per week