Do Locums provide a different quality of care?

Odette Bester
Nov 24, 2020

A little-known fact about healthcare is that hospitals, pharmacies and medical practices frequently hire substitute practitioners – or, as they are called in the profession, locums to temporarily cover for those who are vacationing, sick, attending conferences, or on leave for other reasons.

In South Africa the demand for temporary coverage has increased as the need  for healthcare professionals has risen. This increased demand for clinical services from practitioner shortages is high, especially in private practice. Locums are also a great help if practices grow but don’t have the capacity to get to all their patients. Locums come with the benefit of flexibility which can help to keep staff on standby to assist with the workload.

Locums are most widely used in primary care such as nursing, general practitioners, pharmacists, dentists and optometrists. While they might not be familiar with the work environment, they are as efficient and qualified.

Fueled by global shortages of practitioners across medical practices, many locums are often called on to cover for doctors. But there is sometimes a concern that locum physicians provide lower quality care compared to permanent staff.

Here are some elements to keep in mind about locums…

1. They are no less of a professional practitioner 

There appears to be very little difference between the qualifications and skills of a regular physician compared to a locum. Many doctors are opting to freelance for many reasons and this has made the locum pool bigger. It’s simply a choice of lifestyle and not skill-set. In fact locums are often more skilled because of the varied experiences and different environments they’ve been in. They can often help practices operate more efficiently too by bringing that knowledge to the table.
Jeff Decker, president of Staff Care, a recruiting firm in the US that connects locum doctors with hospitals, explains that by being a locum, undecided young doctors can have the freedom to explore the different disciplines of medicine before committing to one. For mid-career doctors, being a locum meant taking extra shifts to pay off medical school debts. And for older doctors they can be partially retired, seeing patients and doing what they are passionate about.

They’re a fill-in… but they are no less of a physician.

2. They do their due diligence

Locums take the time to familiarize themselves with the patient’s history and do their due diligence when it comes to  standing in for a practice. They have had broad experience working for different practices and understand the basic systems and operations that go into managing a practice. Oftentimes practitioners stick to the same locums they have built a relationship with, especially if their service delivery is good, they are professional and patients are satisfied with the healthcare offered. However, one of the benefits of signing up to LocumBase is that you can try different locums to find the right fit. That choice and the accountability is one of the many benefits of LocumBase.

3. They can be vetted using platforms like LocumBase

With platforms like LocumBase, locums and practices are vetted and a locum’s skills and experience is verified along with their credentials, certificates and qualifications. This ensures the very best quality locums for a practice. Locums aren’t the only ones who can sign-up to showcase their availability. Practices can post locum opportunities available when they need to make quick decisions and be sure their practice is taken care of..  LocumBase is the independent platform that  serves both parties  to make the process as easy, reliable and as safe as possible to protect both locums, practices and ultimately patients. 

Try LocumBase today, whether you’re a practice manager or practitioner looking for a locum or a locum looking for your next opportunity.

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