Locum Doctors

A locum is a person who temporarily fulfills the duties of another. For example, a locum physician is a physician who works in the place of the regular physician when that physician is absent, or when a hospital/practice is short-staffed. These professionals are still governed by their respective regulatory bodies, despite the transient nature of their positions.

In the UK, the NHS on average has 3,500 locum doctors working in hospitals on any given day, with another 17,000 locum general practitioners. Many of these locum hospital doctors are supplied by private agencies through a national framework agreement that the NHS holds with 51 private agencies. NHS figures show that approximately 80% of hospital locum positions are filled by agencies on this framework. The remaining 20% are filled by agencies working outside of this agreement. Locum agencies are common reference points for doctors wishing to work in this market. According to a report published by Royal College of Surgeons NHS spent approximately £467 million on locum doctors through agencies in the year 2009/2010.