In the second of our series on the realities of locuming, The Lockdown Locum runs through a typical week in her varied working life
Venturing to a new practice 20 minutes away, I officially start at 9.30am, but arrive 30 minutes early to look round and settle in. I’ve got the login details already and my smartcard is synced, then am warmly greeted on arrival. On my desk I notice the holy grail - a locum induction pack. Not every practice prepares one, but it’s so useful with door codes, key staff and referral information.
I start clinic, with 15 morning patients and 15 afternoon, alongside 30 minutes for lunch and 60 for my own admin. As a locum, you structure your own day - stipulate the number of patients, admin time and whether you’ll do on-call duties or practice admin. Looking through the appointment list, it’s a pretty standard clinic, with things like a mix of UTIs, eczema, rashes, ear pain and fit notes. When I started locuming, I worried that locums are dumped the hardest cases – but this isn’t the case.
I was 20 minutes late finishing, but am now home. Time for a quick dinner and off to the train station for work tomorrow in the city where my husband works.
On the train, I log into my NASGP LocumDeck account – my management hub. Uploading my train ticket into expenses, I also check that today’s mileage to work is logged correctly – it always is. At the end of the tax year, I can send logged expenses to my accountant to offset my tax bill. Invoices will automatically go out tomorrow for the previous month, so I check these.
Tuesday, 9.20am – 3.30pm:
Work is much the same as yesterday. When I work away from home, I finish at 3.30pm instead of 5pm, reducing the number of patients I see to accommodate. I want to be home before my husband, and as a locum, your work can be tailored to your priorities.
A notification pings – I’m booked for a day’s work in two weeks’ time. All my locum work is automated. I log into NASGP LocumDeck and add my available days and times on my calendar however far in advance I choose.
Then, connected practices see my availability and can make a booking. There’s no marketing or hassle. The main marketing I did was a month into locuming. I decided to expand the number of practices locally I had access to in LocumDeck, as not every practice has heard of it. A mail merge email later, and I was getting emails from practices close to home enquiring how to book, and even secured a two-session maternity locum for nine months.
There’s nothing to report today. I’m working ten sessions this week as I’m pretty relaxed after ten days off recently, coinciding with my husband’s annual leave. Usually, I do eight to nine sessions. Then it’s back on the train this evening for work tomorrow at my maternity locum.
It’s been a good day. This maternity locum is actually a salaried contract. When I negotiated it, my husband’s spouse visa needed renewing in six months’ time, and he wasn’t then working. Due to the tax year I started self-employment, I couldn’t use any self-employment income as proof of earnings for the visa.
A deported husband through lack of permissible income would be very upsetting. I decided that I’d do this maternity locum on a salaried contract at my usual locum rate. I could then count the income for the visa. The arrangement also meant that we wouldn’t fall foul of any IR35 rules, given that I’d be working in one place for an extended period of time.
I saw an interesting case today, and added a portfolio reflective log. A practice also paid my invoice for £1,000 and completed the Locum A form. There’s a bit of maths needed to suss out how much I’ll get in take-home pay. From this invoice, I expect to get £352.32 in take-home pay. This is based on:
- Having already earned £60,000 during the tax year so far from self-employment alone.
- Paying Plan 1 student loan
- National Insurance at 2021 to 2022 rates (set to increase in April 2022).
- Paying into the NHS pension scheme.
In my next article, I’ll show you more in-depth how to work out pay, setting rates and workload.
The Lockdown Locum is a locum GP in England, who wishes to write under a pseudonym