The term ‘locum’ is derived from the Latin phrase locum tenens, which means to hold the place of or to substitute for. It is widely used in dental practice to describe a dentist working at the practice on a temporary capacity to cover fixed, short-term or longer-term absences (illness, injury and maternity leave, for example) or to help with periods of excessive demand.
The NHS regulations have implications for how you engage a locum to help you meet your contractual obligations to provide dental care to your patients. The arrangements in England and Wales vary from those in Scotland and Northern Ireland. These differences are explained.
Key learning points
This advice will help you to understand:
- The checks that you need to make before engaging a locum: GDC registration, professional indemnity; inclusion on a performers list (England and Wales) or a health board list (Scotland and Northern Ireland); and two clinical references
- The NHS rules for engaging a locum on a fixed- or short-term basis
- Assessing the locum’s workload and agreeing appropriate rates of pay
- The need for a written agreement and the clauses that should be included
- The importance of the locum’s employment status.