Being a locum I also happen to have many friends who are practice owners and I’m privy to their conversations and financial anxieties during these uncertain times. Some of them have a multiple franchise, but a few own independents.
The reality is we are all part of a food- chain. No business means effectively no jobs.
As a locum who has worked for a number of practices, I have become aware of a tangible resentment building amongst practice owners against the significant minority of locums who have driven up rates over the last few years and behaved nothing short of mercenary.
My friends all point to many examples of Saturday cover they have booked 2-3 months in advance at £350 plus only for the locum to cancel last minute for a ‘supposed’ emergency. This has cost them thousands and there is no recompense for such unprofessional behaviour. I know of one friend who took a locum to a small claims court for this type of behaviour.
I have lost count of the number of occasions where they end up calling me to cover last minute cancellations; rarely have I been able to as I’ve been booked-up for regular work.
It hasn’t escaped their notice that these locums have ‘jumped ship’ last minute for higher rates and amongst their broad network, these locums’ names have been circulated and are on a ‘do not touch with a barge-pole’ list.
The sentiment is these locums will now struggle to secure work. Agencies are always telling them of having a number of locums on their books who hold onto their Saturdays in particular and only release their availability last minute to secure £400/day plus rates. Rightly or wrongly, this type of behaviour has been recognised as mercenary and become all too familiar within the industry.
Whilst they recognise in large part the majority of locums do not engage in these unprofessional practices, nevertheless it has not endeared them to the locum industry.
Consequently, very little empathy exists amongst practices towards the plight of locums and I very much doubt the AOP will fight our corner.