One of the skills of working as a freelance GP is the ability to adapt quickly to different environments and practise safely. Often when practices hire a freelance GP they are expected to turn up and just get on with it. This is not easy if you have never worked for the practice before and you're not familiar with their systems. To a large extent the performance of a freelance GP depends upon the environment in which they are working. Practices have a responsibilty to their patients to ensure that freelance GPs they hire are working in an environment which allows them to practise safely and perform at the highest level. Otherwise you get a situation which the NASGP calls "enforced underperformance" and the proverbial accident waiting to happen.
One way to address this is to have a good induction pack for freelance GPs who are new to the practice. The idea of 'locum packs' have been around for many years, so why do so few practices use them? One reason is that practice managers are busy people and developing an induction pack is time consuming and does not get prioritised. Another problem is that the induction pack needs to be continually updated and this takes even more time and resources.
One good suggestion was for those freelance GPs who work regularly at a practice and are familiar with its systems is to take the initiative and help the practice develop an induction pack. The benefits for the freelance GP is that it builds good will with the practice, demonstrates value and it can be used as part of their Personal Development Plan (PDP) for Appraisal. Perhaps the best incentive for practices to develop and update an induction pack is that freelance GPs are more likely to go back and work for the practice if the day goes smoothly.
The task of developing an induction pack is less arduous than one may think. A few Practices already have induction packs for GP trainees and allied health staff who join the practice. A member of staff should be designated to keep it up to date. A good induction pack should provide basic information for newcomers as well as more specific tidbits e.g. how to refer someone for minor ops, guidance on referrals and prescribing. A folder stuffed with a bunch of forms just will not do. The basic stationary needed is an A4 ring binder with some polypockets and page dividers. Advancing to use of IT, the induction pack can be stored, accessed and updated electronically via the practice intranet.