A consultation with GPs on account features

Now that our PCT funding has come to an end, we have started to charge Practices a small annual subscription. This is designed to keep us in business and time will tell whether this strategy works for us.

However, in order to survive, we also need to think about how to grow.

As you may already know, there are no technical or logical boundaries to the coverage of our service. We would very much like to try and expand this coverage further afield, beginning with the South.

We can do this by offering Practices outside our network free pilot accounts, so that they might evaluate whether or not we offer a useful tool for them. However, we need these pilot accounts to show plenty of GP sessional availability and often they simply do not.

A solution:
At this time, we allow GPs to fully manage which Practices can view they sessional availability, skills and contact details, from within the Surgeries tab of their account. This has meant that GPs are only contacted by practices that they have agreed to be contacted by.

In order for us to grow, we need to make a change to the way things work, so that your Surgeries list becomes a way for you to control which practices can see your contact details.

This way, any practice could see your sessional availability and could send you a Request but only via our system, whilst only those you specify in your Surgeries list would be able to see your email address and phone number and contact you directly. We would ensure that practices can see how far away from them you are before creating a Request to you but, what this change may amount to, is that you may occasionally get Requests via our system for sessional cover that is outside of your specified work radius.

From another perspective, however, it may make a big difference in our attempt to expand our coverage beyond its current limits. Which would, in turn, mean that GPnetworks may eventually become as useful to GPs in North London as it is to you.

This is by no means a planned change, scheduled to take place. It is something we would like to try and a request to you to back us in our attempt to grow.

We welcome your feedback below

The GPnetworks Team

20 thoughts on “A consultation with GPs on account features”

  1. I would prefer this not to happen as I have worked at some places and not wanted to go back there and so I have taken them off the list. If this change happened then this option is taken away and then I would have to decline requests and it wastes time for the practice as well. Would it not be easier to contact vts groups in the areas you are giving a free trial to practices and then it should pick up from there?

  2. Thanks Tamsin – we would plan to do that also (contact VTS groups) – and it should be the local GPs that fulfil the needs of the practices. Most requests are made directly by practices and not through the system so local GPs would have a big advantage because their contact details would show alongside their sessional availability.

  3. I feel the same as Tamsin does, about not wanting practices I specifically don’t want to work for contacting me. Maybe a compromise would be that we could blacklist practices we really didn’t want while still leaving it open to new (unknown) ones.

  4. Yes, we are also considering this as an option:

    That all Surgeries can see a GPs sessional availability by default with the Surgeries tab providing GPs with a means of stopping a particular surgery seeing their sessional availability ?

    A kind of surgery black list

    And, alongside this, a rule that surgeries outside the GPs work radius cannot see the GPs contact details

  5. given the suggestions so far, that’s fine as long as online availability is not altered until we have had a job confirmed in that session and secondly, if we wish to, we can get rid of declined requests, otherwise, it can potentially get very messy and we will not be able to see our actual job(s) for the day!

  6. I should point out that, currently, when a practice later declines a Request they had made to you OR when you decline a Request, in both cases there is a way for you to control whether or not the session continues to show as available to other practices.

    This can be switched off and on at will and, where availability is switched on, when another practice Requests you for the session the status is reset accordingly.

    In other words, whilst you cannot get rid of declined requests, you can over write them

  7. I think two lists should be available :one with GP Locums who work in a specific area and named practices and some GP locums who are prepared to be more peripatetic and cover other areas and accept having their details circulated to those practices

  8. This could be a simple switch inside your Surgeries screen:

    “allow Practices outside my work radius to see my availability and Request me (but not see my contact details)” [ x ]

  9. Access to surgeries even within given radius can be problematical – traffic, parking etc. Practices outwith given radius may actually be more accessible and take less time to reach so in principle I would favour the proposal.
    Also, the greater the competition for practices to acquire the services of a locum the better we are liable to be treated, the less the potential for exploitation of locums by practices and the better our position to maintain our incomes.
    Increasing our options and choices must surely be a good thing.

  10. thanks for those points, James. Perhaps we should add a new attribute to Practices ‘parking facilities’ [yes/no] ?

  11. First I would like to say I very much of value GP networks it has been a major source of work from me over the last three years and has kept me pretty much fully employed. I think is an excellent idea to expand outwards particularly if that improves the viability of the business as a whole.

    Locum perspective: I like the online calendar and that my availability shows to subscribing surgeries when they search for a particular date. Surgeries complain that the process of booking multiple sessions is quite a slow process although it works well for one-off requests. Usually when I get a request for multiple dates it is by e-mail.

    At the moment the inbox is confusing: it lists confirmed work at the top and requests awaiting attention somewhere at the bottom. This is quite illogical because the top of the screen is what shows and grabs your attention and outstanding requests are what need prompt action.

    Unless things have changed recently there is a problem with the way that surgeries are listed for GP locums. It seems that when a new surgery is added to the list then by default it is “not selected”. The default state should be that any new surgery that registers with a GP networks and is within the locums radius area should be selected as available. The option to blacklist the surgery by individual locums should be retained to avoid frustration or unpleasant discussions with the surgery concerned.

    I don’t think it is a good idea to expand outside the available radius: I live in Chichester and had my radius set far enough that I was picking up work in Lewes which was fine by me but this also touched south London which was too far given the travelling times. Expanding this further will just mean that surgery then contacts locums who say “no thank you”.

    I also don’t think it is a good idea to specify distance travelled for the locums to be visible to the surgery. Living in Chichester this area is pretty well saturated by Pallant Medical Chambers so most of my work is travelling further afield. I would not want to lose work simply because I have to travel further if that is something that I am comfortable doing.

    In short I don’t think the proposed solution is a very reasonable choice: it will give surgery is a false impression of availability and cause additional work for locums. this is rather like the free trial that dating agencies offer sharing hundreds of likely matches when in fact the vast majority are in active or unsuitable. There is a huge similarity between GP networks and online dating services and perhaps some of their more reputable strategies might be a way forward!

    I think there is a serious need for a marketing effort by GP networks: I have been supervising GP registrars for out of hours for several years and still there was no name recognition the GP networks in most of the West Sussex area.

    There is plenty of evidence that both surgeries and locums find this service available: so there must be a way to leverage this in order to run a successful commercial company that is not reliant on a handout from the PCT.


  12. Hi All.

    The feedback has been very useful, as always. So much so that we think we ought to open a sibling discussion on the wider subject: how can we improve GPnetworks.


    @Neil – the issue of new Practices joining is as you suggest it should be – ie. when a new practice joins the system, they are automatically associated with GPs with which they fall into the work radius of.

  13. With regard to OOH – we have tried and failed so far to get South East Health to use our system to source sessional doctors.

    If anyone can help us with this mission, we would be eternally grateful

    We believe that an OOH provider covering a similar geographical area could benefit a great deal from an account or series of accounts on our system. It would also mean that a sessional doctor could book and manage their OOH work and day work in a single place!

  14. Agree with all the comments so far, particularly regarding not wanting certain surgeries to be able to view your availability as you would decline any future requests from them.
    Also difficult to be completely arbitrary about distance or even session availability as eg I may be “available” Mon pm but would not be able to travel from a long morning in West Sussex over to Eastbourne in time. Also the distance I would be prepared to travel would depend on the booking eg 2hr return trip might be ok for a whole day but not a 2hr surgery.

  15. I understand this – a GPs work radius is not absolute but has many dependencies – will add to wish list

  16. Agree I do not wish practices that I am not willing to work for [eg due to poor work enviroment] to see my availability. Also, I am a Salaried Doctor and do not wish my surgery to know my timetable when not working for them. I should have the ability to control who see my details.

  17. yes, that will be the case still as the ability to show to practice outside work radius will be an option and any practices within your work radius (your list) can be switched off an on, as it were)

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