Locums in the Time of COVID-19
Locum is a technical term for a substitute physician. This trend and career model is popular for a while now and it helps medical facilities across the globe to fill in their staff in times of emergency. Speaking of which, never in history was the medical system across the globe stretched as thin as it is today. During the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are full and even with all the steps of precaution, doctors are bound to fall ill, as well. So, what is the role of locums in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic? Let’s find out!
1. The shortage of opportunities
While there’s a great shortage of trained medical personnel across the globe, the situation is currently not that great for locum doctors. First of all, while bringing in a new doctor to your hospital may be a necessity, there are too many travel restrictions and lockdowns across the globe. Bringing in a doctor from a red zone seems like it could make things even worse. Still, there’s a silver lining. As the situation gets calmer, things may turn around.
2. Cancellation of annual leave
Annual leave of regular personnel is bread and butter for the majority of locum doctors out there. This is why the COVID-19 pandemic is making things so difficult. Annual leaves are getting cancelled and doctors are allowed to go on leave only if they get sick. In some hospitals or regions, locum work disappeared completely.
Nonetheless, as soon as the situation is a bit calmer, the majority of doctors that are now overworked will immediately apply for a leave. This will open up some new locum opportunities. In the past, the best thing about locum doctors was the fact that you didn’t have to spend all your career in one place. Now, it’s more important than ever that everyone remains in their post.
3. Adjustments to the industry
Not everything is so grim in this industry either and there numerous GP locum jobs still available. As for how the industry as a whole will adjust to these problems, well, they’re still trying to figure it out but there are several solutions. Financial help is the first measure that could help a lot of locum doctors who are left jobless by this situation. Others, those who do have work, well, their mental health and wellbeing may be compromised, which is a situation that requires urgent attention. Most importantly, better risk assessment could make a world of difference.
4. Sick leave and death in service
Lastly, we need to talk about the inevitable, the worst part of this job – death and illness in the line of work. Locum doctors are not entitled to financial support in scenarios where they can’t work due to illness. Still, if they develop symptoms, they will have to look for self-isolation options. This puts them in a position where they may get sick in the line of work but develop symptoms after they stop working in the medical institution of choice. In other words, it’s a pretty bad time to work locum.
One of the things that makes this situation the most difficult, is the fact that the majority of locums travel long distances to get to their post. Seeing as how different areas, counties, towns and cities don’t have the same level of exposure, this practice is quite inconvenient for everyone. If a locum is from a low-risk area and they travel to a higher-risk area, they are exposing people back home to a risk of virus. Hiring a locum from a high-risk area to work in a low-risk area is just as dangerous and completely counter-intuitive.
All in all, it’s not a good time to be a locum doctor. All the benefits of this practice in the past are now negated or mostly negated and job uncertainty is higher than ever. Still, does this mean the end of this trend? Well, such a thing would be highly unlikely. After all, locum doctor appraisal came out of necessity, not a whim and as such, it’s likely to make a comeback relatively soon. With the right approach to the situation, better risk assessments, financial help and different work model, the majority of these downsides can be minimized.
About the author
Leo King is a 28-year-old freelance English teacher and a passionate part-time writer. He is a novel aficionado and interested in reading and writing articles about home improvement, business, fashion, health, marketing, web designing, technology, and related niches. He lives with his wife and family in Sydney. Here is his Twitter.