General Update:

The locum market has witnessed a dramatic change over the first few months of the clinical year resulting in an over-saturation of doctors within the market.

In respect to job flow, there has been a reduction in the number of locum positions available. This was to be expected given the start of the new clinical year, and has been fairly consistent in comparison with Q1 figures for previous years. However, contrary to previous years, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of doctors seeking locum work, which has created a significant imbalance between jobs available and candidates wishing to work.

The current market conditions strongly favour hospitals, and most hospitals are aware of the over-supply of candidates which has shifted how hospitals are operating, and also their expectations of locum doctors.

We are expecting things to ease up over the coming months as the amount of vacancies typically increase, and a number of existing locum doctors who have secured training roles in UK/Ireland for the August 2024 intake will be exiting the market.

However, below are some of the approaches that we have been taking with our locum doctors to ensure that we are able to find them suitable positions and avoid periods without work:

Tips to Succeed:

  1. Align Availability With Term Dates

Hospitals have always preferred doctors that are able to commit to longer durations due to continuity/consistency in the department, and for ease of onboarding. Given the number of candidates in the market at present, they are able to insist on this more so than in previous years. Given most hospitals also run their rosters on a term-by-term basis, it is even more imperative than previously that doctors are flexible with their availability and open to providing longer (or full-term commitments). Confusingly, term dates can vary across each state, particularly at RMO level. However, we have been working proactively with doctors, advising them of term dates for their preferred locations, and where possible, aligning their availability with term dates to create as strong a submission as possible.

  1. Proactive Approach

Adopting a proactive approach is always a worthwhile strategy in order to secure positions ahead of other doctors. As hospitals have been able to book doctors in for longer-term placements, it has enabled them to forward plan better, sometimes even reviewing rosters / locum requirements up to ~3+ months in advance. Therefore, having a proactive approach with respect to availability/preferences/etc is even more important to ensure that you are keeping pace with the timeframes of hospitals. We are working with all our locum doctors to encourage this, and ensure that we are looking in to desirable options suitably far in advance.

  1. Speed to Market

If a locum position is advertised, the Medical Workforce Team will typically submit the first 4-5 suitable applications to the department for review, and stop processing further submissions. Given the competitive nature of the market, the hospital can stop taking further submissions relatively quickly (sometimes within a matter of minutes). Therefore, we have taken steps to fully understand preferences for doctors that we work with, so that we can submit them straight away for any listed roles that they would be interested in. This ensures that the doctor's application is being considered by the department, but also that the position will be suitable. This also avoids the need to retrospectively withdraw the submission later on, which can impact the doctor's credibility for future presentations.

  1. Realistic Rate Expectations:

Whilst we will always try to maximise remuneration for doctors, with the current over-supply of doctors, hospitals are generally unwilling to offer increased pay rates because they are aware that they will be able to fill vacancies at their standard/baseline rates. For any doctor interested in minimum pay rates, it is important that these are realistic and achievable within the current market. We can provide information on rates across the country, and highlight the hospitals that will be best placed to offer remuneration in line the expectation of the doctor. If expectations are too high and this may significantly limit options, then we will advise of this from the outset.

  1. Consider Re-Bookings

Doctors generally have a higher chance of re-booking at hospitals that they have worked previously as a locum. This is because hospitals will prefer doctors already known to the department, and for ease of onboarding/credentialing. In most instances, hospitals will also be more flexible with partial dates for returning locums too. Therefore, whilst part of the essence of locuming is the ability to work in different hospitals/locations across Australia, it is potentially prudent to consider this as an option if you have enjoyed working at a hospital previously.

Charterhouse Medical:

With current market conditions, it is more important than ever for a locum doctor to be aligned with a proactive agency/consultant that can help navigate the difficult market conditions.

The Non-Specialist Team at Charterhouse have built up a strong reputation over the past 5-6 years within the market, and would be keen to speak with any doctors who interested in undertaking locum work over the coming months. If you would be keen to find out more, or express interest, please contact myself on:otenwick@charterhousemedical.comor 02 9641 2437

We also run a referral scheme, and are happy to offer $1,000 for any successful referral. Therefore, if you have any friends/colleagues interested in locuming, please let me know.