I have been working in the medical recruitment sector for near enough 5 years; granted it’s not as long a tenure as a lot of people out there – but it has certainly proved long enough to witness and experience the change in compliance standards; especially in the locum market.
Since the inception and implementation of Frameworks (such as PASA, Buying Solutions, GPS, LPP, CPP… the list goes on) the concept of compliance has evolved into something that is detested by locum doctors. Gone are the days where all the documents you would need to book a locum doctor could be counted using the fingers on one hand – now you will need several hands!
- “There are so many documents involved!”
- “Why do you need 3 variations of the same document?”
- “How many more forms do I need to fill out?”
- “References? I just gave you three referee details two weeks ago and now you want more??”
- “Why are you stricter than the NHS in terms of documents?”
I’m sure that these comments are heard on a regular (if not daily) basis by compliance staff nationwide; and I certainly feel your pain when you have to repeat the same answer to each locum and hope that they don’t get sick and tired of the registration process and decide to withdraw their interest altogether. Believe me, locum agencies are not too thrilled about requesting every document under the sun dating back to when you started nursery either! We are in the same boat.
However… with all that being said. There is a necessity for the strict level of compliance. Working as a locum will automatically bring agencies to the spotlight if there is a complaint, issue, malpractice, etc. Unfortunately as a locum, you probably will be under more scrutiny while you work and the sad story is, if something was to go wrong – your investigation will most likely go deeper when compared to a substantive member of staff. Hardly fair, but as they say… “That’s how the cookie crumbles”.
Upon investigation or audit, a locum’s file is dissected with a fine surgical knife – no document is left unturned and every record is looked over by a trained keen eye. If there is an error or a missing document, it will most definitely be found and bought to light. If there are issues with documentation then both agency and locum doctor will be at the centre of questioning. Needless to say, this is a scenario that is definitely best avoided rather than experienced.
In a nutshell; compliance is necessary and agencies do have to follow the stringent guidelines set out by Frameworks. Ultimately, the compliance of a locum is not just about paperwork or a red-tape, tick-box exercise – it is also about protection. Protection for the locum, the agency, the NHS and of course… the patients.
Considering the status quo with the NHS and the government aiming to reduce agency spend and cut down on locums, it would not surprise me in the least if the level of compliance does get more intense as the months and years go on. The only thing we can ask for from an agency perspective is that locums have the patience and understand that we are equally sharing the pain with you – a problem shared is a problem halved, right?
If anyone would like to chuck in their two cents, please comment and we can have a healthy discussion.