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The Importance of Locums for Healthcare in Ireland

The need for locum healthcare professionals in Ireland has never been greater.

With the Irish healthcare system under significant strain, due to issues such as staffing shortages, it is vital that organisations start to consider the use of these temporary workers. This is made simple with the help of one of Ireland & the UK’s top locum agencies. Below, we will give an overview of the current challenges facing the healthcare sector at the moment, and how the use of locums can help.

What is a Locum?

A locum, sometimes known as locum tenens, is a healthcare professional who is contracted to work on a temporary basis in pharmacies, hospitals, and other medical settings. They generally fill in when the regular employee is not available, covering shifts on a short-term basis.

Agency Nurse at work

Organisations can highly benefit from the use of locums

Challenges Facing Ireland’s Healthcare System

Like many other countries, Ireland faces a range of challenges when it comes to healthcare.

Staff shortages

Staff shortages in Ireland are at an all-time low. A recent report, completed in January 2023, stated that staffing levels across healthcare have hit record lows, with an additional 15,000 workers needed by 2035. Factors such as emigration, staff burnout, and the cost of living crisis are just some of the reasons for this decrease in staffing levels.

Recruitment & retention issues in rural areas

Although recruitment and retention is a countrywide issue, we are seeing an increase in issues securing healthcare staff in rural areas specifically. This can be put down to factors such as the housing crisis, lack of public transportation, and preference for living in the city. With many choosing to situate themselves in Dublin or Cork, healthcare facilities in smaller towns are struggling.

Benefits of Hiring Locums for Healthcare Facilities

Evidently, there are numerous issues currently affecting the healthcare system in Ireland, and one way of tackling these problems is with the utilisation of locum jobsLocum pharmacists, agency nurses, and locum GPs can benefit healthcare facilities in a number of ways:

#1. Flexibility

The use of locums provides a level of flexibility to healthcare facilities, allowing them to adjust their staffing levels based on actual needs and patient volume, and manage their resources more effectively. Locums can be used to cover gaps caused by illness or annual leave without disrupting the continuity of care for patients.

#2. Maintain patient satisfaction

Locums are highly qualified and experienced, ensuring that the standard of care remains consistently high, even in times of staff shortages. Beyond preserving quality, locums play a significant role in reducing waiting times for patients.

Hospitals can handle more patients efficiently with locums, preventing delays in treatment. Without the support of locum pharmacists, pharmacies might become understaffed, causing operational challenges and longer wait times for patients. This can lead to patient frustration and a potential shift to other pharmacies for services.

#3. Cost efficiency

As mentioned, locums are often used to cover gaps in a facility’s roster. Time off is necessary whether due to holidays, sickness, or a preventative measure for burnout.

When an organisation relies on the individual taking time off to provide essential services, this can lead to complications. Hiring locums to fill these gaps can be much more cost-effective than having to hire a full-time or permanent employee.

Pharmacist at work

Locums can enjoy a better work-life balance, higher earnings, and more!

Benefits of Becoming a Locum as a Healthcare Professional

The benefits to becoming a locum are endless, and can generally trump permanent full-time positions. If you’re considering a career as a locum, the following reasons may entice you further.

#1. Work-life balance

The flexibility to pick and choose your availability, and having control over what shifts you work gives you a highly improved work-life balance.

It’s a brilliant option for someone who doesn’t like to be tied to a fixed schedule. Life as a locum means it’s much easier to take time off for holidays, plan events, and avoid burnout from working long hours.

#2. Increased earnings

It’s no secret that locums generally earn higher rates than those in fixed-term contracts. This is down to the demanding nature of the role. Rates vary depending on location, weekdays vs. weekends, and time of year. You can choose to make as much or as little as you like by picking the shifts that suit you.

#3. Professional growth

As a locum, you will face many challenges from being a variety of locums and teams. Adapting to these environments will ultimately lead to you growing your decision-making skills, communication techniques, and overall knowledge of different workflows and management styles. Overall, locuming will allow you to become a more efficient and well-rounded healthcare provider.

We've written a number of guides to help prepare you for the locuming process:

And there are numerous other guides. Feel free to check out other articles in our blog to find more useful information about what it means to work as a locum.

Gain Access to Our Locum Database Today

Now that you're aware of the important role that locums play in the Irish healthcare system, it's time to utilise them.

At Clarity Locums, we have a database of thousands of locum pharmacists, nurses, and GPs across Ireland & the UK. Find out more about becoming an employer with us today or contact us below with any questions you have.

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Posted on 11 October 2023
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