Check out this article in the Finance section of December’s edition Management in Practice Magazine
It is estimated that £1bn is spent on GP locums each year, a proportion of which are charges by some agencies. At a time when GPs are taking on
additional responsibilities within an increasingly limited budget, this is an unsustainable cost. When I worked with GP practices in south west Essex, to help them improve patient access, the locum-staffing sector came up time and again as a real pain point for practice managers.
They felt it was a needless expense and administrative burden to the already overstretched community sector. Practice managers and GPs kept
reiterating the problems they were having with locums – some locum agencies are expensive, locums are hard to find at the last minute, the
administration takes ages. It all made me think there must be a better way of doing this.
Other industries had found ways around it, for example mybuilder.com in the building industry or keystonetutors.com in the private tutoring market and it got me asking myself… how could these innovations be bought over to the NHS?
I hence came up with the idea of Networklocum.com and set upon it with my friend and business partnerWilliam. It’s an easy to use online tool that helps practices find and book locums quickly online. The whole process starting from locums
registering with Network Locum, to practice managers accepting the best ones for the job, is all done over the internet. Even the locum invoicing part is done through the platform. No posting, no faxing, no cold calls. As soon as a practice manager or GP posts a locum role, a list of locums available in their area for fast booking becomes available immediately. Each of the locums listed already has all their qualifications and checks uploaded, ready for the practice manger or GP to
view or print. As well as easily accessible documentation the Network Locum system also records a simple referencing system, so people posting locum roles can quickly select the best locums for their practice. We ask practice managers for
feedback on how well the locum performed (two questions: ‘Would you hire them again?’ and ‘Did they turn up on time?’). We convert these answers into a five star rating (like on E-bay), which other practice managers can see when locums apply for their jobs. This means that even if you haven’t met the locum before, you can see what other practice managers thought of them. This adds a trust element to the site. Originally my only aim was to make life easier for practice managers but I
soon realised I could also save them money as because our service is all online – unlike other recruitment agencies, I don’t have to employ lots of staff so I can charge a much lower price.
Using a simple, online approach to filling temporary gaps in community care, Network Locum intends to give more power to the individuals involved practice managers, locums and GPs saving millions of pounds. The Network Locum site was officially
launched in May 2012 after a series of pilots across several GP practices in London. Already, it is achieving my aim
of simplifying a practice manager’s day. One of the first people to trial the site was Paula, a practice manager in Stamford Hill, who said: ‘When I came across Network Locum I decided to give it a shot, try something new. I am so glad I did, I had an urgent need the other day and the position was filled within the hour!’
Zoe, a practice manager in Southwark said: ‘Loving the system, makes my life more simple and I will use it loads.’