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Locum GP Jobs in Australia

November 4, 2019 0 Comments

Locum work appeals to many doctors in Australia every year, especially to those looking for flexibility, work-life balance and the opportunity to work in their area of expertise at good pay rates and different environments.  

Locum GP Jobs in Australia

Life as a Locum GP

Requirements to Work as a Locum GP

Locums as a Percentage of the Medical Staff in NSW

Salaries for GP Locums 


Life as a Locum GP

A locum GP is employed temporarily in hospitals or GP practices. Generally, the demand for locum doctors increases when various leave days are taken by the regular medical staff and they need temporary replacing. Other times, certain areas of Australia are so remote that full-time local doctors are tough to find and therefore locums are sought to fly in and out. Ongoing patient care is key and therefore some locations in Australia rely on a combination of both regular and locum doctors. 

Locum GPs have a crucial role in Australia’s medical system, from working as GPs in surgeries and medical centres to helping with a hospital’s emergency department and on-call needs. 

As pointed out by the Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), many doctors choose to do locum work at some point in their careers, even if just for a short period of time. For some, it is an interesting, lucrative and fulfilling way to spend their annual leave. For others it is a chance to experience and learn more about a new and different environment.

A locum position can come with a number of benefits including higher pay rates, flexibility with your available time, new experiences to gain and the opportunity to travel to various places in Australia – both inland, coastal and on islands. 

GP doctor medical equipment

Dr Mackie shared with the MJA he had been practising for 20 years before he decided to work as a locum GP for a new change in his lifestyle. 

He left his partnership at a practice in Byron Bay, NSW and started working as a locum for six months of each year. Since he made the decision to locum, he has been able to work and travel across the country. From Townsville in QLD, to the WA wheat belt area and even down to Tasmania.

It can be an great way for GPs to add variety to their careers while also positively impacting smaller communities in Australia. The only thing that he concerns about is the matter of patient care continuity since he could not do regular follow-ups on his patients due to the nature of locum placement.

Locum jobs are also great ways to gain more experience towards speciality areas or a GPs current training programs. Due to the variety of locum work available and a shortage of Rural GPs in Australia, a lot of doctors are encouraged to try it. The right recruiters can assist in finding a suitable position for you, whether it’s for a couple of days, weeks or months – it all depends on your availability and interests. 

It is worth noting two pitfalls of locum work – one for the locum doctors themselves and the other for the communities around Australia. Doctors that want to locum in the hospital system will need to go through extensive screening, and just how extensive that screening gets can differ from state to state and health service.

And for the communities, while they need ongoing doctors for patient care, there can be issues with continuity of care when multiple short-term locum doctors work in the same area. Each doctor has to handover to the next which can cause gaps in knowledge, especially when it comes to complex patients. Fortunately, there are ways to help with this such as My Health Record. 

GP doctor in patient consultation writing notes


Requirements to Work as a Locum GP

In order work as a locum doctor in Australia, there are a set of basic requirements for your initial screening and approval. Please keep in mind these are basic, core documents everyone will need. Depending on the locations locum doctors go to, the additional documentation can vary. 

  1. Medical registration: General registration and/or Specialist registration with the Medical Board of Australia. Locum options may be limited for those with Limited registration or with Conditions on their registration. 
  2. Right to work in Australia as a doctor: Doctors must have a recognised Medical Degree and either be an Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident, be enrolled in an active training program and obtain the right visa to work as a locum doctor in Australia if the doctor is from another country. 
  3. National Police Check (National) and Working With Children (WWC) Check (Per State) are often required. 
  4. Medical Indemnity Insurance: Although most health services in Australia will have some type of  insurance to cover the locum doctors they are employing, doctors are strongly recommended to organise their own indemnity insurance. Locum doctors are employed as contractors, if you are working somewhere temporarily you should cover your bases without relying on the hospital system. 
  5. Provider Number and Prescriber Number: These are unique numbers assigned to each medical professional who participates in the Medicare Program including Locum doctors. They are required when doctors Bill or Request services eligible for Medicare benefits, they also identify the doctors’ qualifications, registrations and practice locations. 
  6. Immunisations: Documented evidence for certain vaccinations is required in order to safely practice in a hospital setting. These generally may include Measles, Mumps & Rubella, Pertussis, Hepatitis B and sometimes Tuberculosis. 
  7. Additional documentation: The amount of additional documentation for Credentialing purposes may vary depending on your practice location. Generally these include a variety of pre-employment checklists, reference checks from peers or direct supervisors, statutory declarations, codes of conduct and employee personal details forms. 

Locums as a Percentage of the Medical Staff in NSW

This year, an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) revealed that an average of 16.5 percent of doctors working in the NSW public health system are locums, who are usually hired through a medical recruitment agency. 

NSW Health Locum Distribution

The president of the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation, said in the news that over the past few years locum jobs have become a lot more widespread and common. 

Particularly in NSW, locums account for 3.4 percent of the full-time equivalent (FTE) medical staff. 

Locum jobs have been increasingly more appealing over the years, especially to junior doctors in emergency departments where sometimes they could earn up to $2000 a day as locum. Compared to around $1200 for a  staff specialist in a similar permanent job.


Salaries for GP Locums in Australia

A locum GP salary may vary depending on a number of factors. Daily rates for GP Locums could start from $1000 and go upwards of $2000 and $2500. Important factors to consider are the locations of the jobs (the more remote it is the stronger the daily rate becomes), the experience level of the doctor (if only covering GP work or also hospital ED/on-call), duration of the job (i.e. 1x day or 1x week or a few months at a time, all depending on doctors’ availability). 

There are also some other benefits for GP locums such as having travel and accommodation expenses either included or reimbursed as well as Salary packaging options that help with a doctor’s personal accounting and higher take-home pay. 


Do you have any questions in regards to working as a Locum GP in Australia? 

Please contact one of our friendly team of consultants Today and let us tell you what Locum GP and Permanent GP jobs are available around Australia and whether they could be exactly what you are looking for.

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