Preparing your Practice for Staff Absence

Choosing the right locum insurance

Your practice will need to cope with staff absence, so it is important you have the right locum insurance. Find out how to make sure your staff absence cover suits your needs and contingency plans.

When choosing your policy, it is important that you consider how your practice copes with staff absence. Whether you would rather have cover from the first day of absence or feel that you could cope for two weeks with an absence, you can choose an excess period to suit you.

Typically, the higher your excess/waiting period is, the cheaper your premium is likely to be, so we would always advise you to think about how locum insurance fits within your contingency plans and budget.

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Employing a locum doctor

It is useful to know that you don’t have to go to an agency to get a locum doctor to cover an absence. There are policies available that cover all staff in your surgery, so if, for example, a doctor is off due to sickness or accident (or another reason included in your policy cover), you can explore a solution that involves using other members of staff, to cover the absentee’s sessions.

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Benefits of using an in-house locum doctor

As well as keeping your patients confident in the treatment they will receive, the cost of keeping locums in-house is lower than finding an external locum doctor. It is usually cheaper to cover absence internally as there are no admin fees from an agency and internal staff are more likely to be familiar with patients, colleagues and understand the practice and ways in which it works.

If your surgery does usually employ an external locum, there may be times in which they are unable to attend an agreed session which is why having an internal solution in place is always a good idea. For example, if your practice has a ‘sister surgery’ or is part of a bigger group, then you can work together to come up with a business continuity plan across the sites that involves certain members of staff being available for overtime or swapped sessions when an absence arises.

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Improving your doctors’ health and wellbeing

When a doctor is unable to work, and a locum is required to cover an absence, it can be a stressful and costly time for your surgery, staff and patients.

To help your surgery to continue putting patients first and protect you from the increased cost of working resulting from staff absence, it’s always a good idea to check your locum insurance and ask your insurance broker if there are ways that you can prevent absence, help support colleagues who are off sick and decrease the amount you spend on providing cover.

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Health and wellbeing assistance for doctors and surgeries

Whilst the vast majority of absences are entirely unavoidable, there are a number of absences every year which could potentially be reduced or even prevented.

With this in mind, we have now added a leading Employee Assistance Programme to our locum insurance policy to help support the practices we protect. Unlike some health and wellbeing services that offer passive support, Towergate Health Assist actively works to put your colleagues in control, meaning they can focus on their job. This package:

  • Increases employee wellbeing
  • Enhances your surgery’s reputation to aid recruitment
  • Supports duty of care
  • Supports absent team members
  • May enhance staff retention
  • Includes access to 24-hour helplines, online information and self-help tools
  • Provides unlimited access to a wealth of information and is available online or via a smartphone app

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Flexible locum insurance

When taking out locum insurance, you should look for an insurance broker that provides an advised quote, as they will ensure that your surgery gets the right policy for your needs, rather than offering generic cover that may not be quite right for you.

We offer three types of locum cover, each designed to suit a variety of medical surgeries:

  • Assured: a policy where only named doctors are covered under the policy
  • Embrace: everyone in the practice is covered in the case of absence, including all GPs, nurses and practice staff
  • Response: designed to respond to the NHS General Medical Services (GMS) Statement of Financial Entitlements

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Locum insurance from Towergate

With over 100 years of combined experience and knowledge in the medical insurance sector, Towergate Insurance provide a specialist team of locum advisors and an in-house claims team who can deal with your staff absence claims directly and efficiently.

To find out more about how we can help your surgery, visit our locum insurance webpage, call 01438 739891 or email

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About the author

Carolyn Baker-Mellor - care insurance articles authorCarolyn Baker-Mellor is a respected industry leader with over 35 years' experience within the care insurance sector. She works across a wide spectrum of insurance product and policy development, delivery and optimisation for care industry clients, including managing global corporate accounts, working closely with trade associations, and helping clients in protecting their businesses and personal assets. Her areas of expertise within the sector include care homes, nurseries, domiciliary care, hospices and charities.

Carolyn currently works at Towergate as Head of Care Insurance. Towergate is the UK’s leading independent insurance broking platform and forms part of the Ardonagh Group, an international network of over 100 offices and 7,000 people which incorporates leading brands in both Lloyd’s of London and global markets.

She previously worked for 10 years at Aon as a director, client services leader and assistant director for claims.