Locum doctors are often perceived to present greater risks of causing harm to patients than permanent doctors. However, a study from Ferguson and Walshe published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that there is little evidence that locum doctors, including GPs, have a 'detrimental' pact on patient care delivery.
This paper presents a narrative review of the evidence relating to the quality and safety of locum medical practice. Its purpose is to develop our understanding of how temporary working in the medical profession might impact on quality and safety and to help formulate recommendations for practice, policy and research priorities.
The authors conclude that there is very limited empirical evidence to support the many commonly held assumptions about the quality and safety of locum practice, or to provide a secure evidence base for the development of guidelines on locum working arrangements. It is clear that future research could contribute to a better understanding of the quality and safety of locum doctors working and could help to find ways to improve the use of locum doctors and the quality and safety of patient care that they provide.