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Permanent GP or Locum GP: Which is Best For You?

permanent gp or locum gp

Whether you recently finished studying medicine or you’re a medical professional looking for a career in general practice, choosing between permanent GP roles or locum doctor vacancies can be a challenge.   

On the one hand, life as a GP enables you to build relationships with patients in a structured and reliable role. On the other hand, as a locum doctor, you’ll be able to work from a variety of locations and fit work in around your life. To help you decide which option is right for you, let’s take a look at the reasons you might choose each role:

You want every day to be different

Whether you’re a permanent GP or a freelancing locum, no two days will be the same. Every day you’ll be exposed to new stories and new challenges, forcing you to think on your feet and find solutions or ‘next steps’ for patients of all ages and backgrounds.

You want to build long lasting relationships with your patients

Although every day is different, as a permanent GP you’re likely to deal with the same set of patients and, after a few months in the position, you’ll start to see familiar faces. Over time, this can enable you to build a relationship with your patients and gain their trust and respect.

Locum doctors are greatly respected by patients as they play a vital role in reducing waiting times in surgeries. However, as a locum it is certainly more difficult to build lasting relationships with patients as you may only see them once or twice before moving onto a new location.

You want your career to be meaningful

A career in medicine is perhaps one of the most meaningful industries you could work in. Whether you become a resident GP or a locum, you’ll be making a difference to people’s lives every single day. You may be the first person people turn to when they’re not feeling their best and, by using your extensive education and knowledge, you can do everything you can to improve their health.

You want freedom to travel

Whether you want time off work to explore the world or you’d prefer to travel around Britain and work from various locations, becoming a locum GP will give you the freedom you need to globetrot without sacrificing your career.

You could work from London one week, breaking up your work day with plenty of sightseeing, before working from a small practice in a peaceful town in Cheshire the week after.

With generous holiday entitlements and the possibility for time in lieu, being a resident GP can also give you more freedom to travel than most professions.

You want flexible hours

If you’d like to work flexible hours and plan work around your life, a career in general practice could be great for you, regardless of whether you become a permanent GP or a locum.

As a freelancer, you’ll have full autonomy over when and where you work. If you’d like to take a day off to spend time with your family or do something special, you can. You’ll have full control over your holidays and don’t need to ask a boss for their permission. You’ll also be able to pick and choose which practices to work from. It’s up to you whether you work for a local surgery or travel further afield to gain experience in a wide range of practices.

As a permanent GP, you’ll still benefit from an element of flexibility. Many practices offer staff a variety of working patterns, with the possibility of late starts/early finishes along with weekday or weekend work. Some permanent GPs choose to only work during term-time so they can spend the school holidays with their children.

You want reliability and structure

While some doctors seek freedom and flexibility, others are best suited to a more structured role that allows them to plan ahead and adopt a regular routine. If you’d like to work set hours each week in an environment that makes you feel right at home, being a resident GP could be the best option for you.

Although Locum doctors have flexibility to travel and choose their hours, as with any freelance positions, there’s always a risk that there may not be available hours when needed.


To learn more about the world of general practitioners and locum doctors, please get in touch with the team at IMH. Whether you wish to work flexibly or build lasting relationships with patients, we can help find the perfect opportunities for you.