Letter: Checks on locums

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The Independent Culture
Checks on locums

Sir: When women call us to complain about obstetric care, one of the first questions we ask is: "Was the doctor a locum?" ("NHS fails to check locums", 21 April).

In August 1997 the NHS executive produced a code of practice for employment of locums, after a series of scandals. It was too little too late. Consumers wanted locums to carry a log book of all their past jobs; the code only requires them to give details of their most recent employer.

We still receive complaints of incompetent and ill-advised forceps and vacuum deliveries and other interventions. The women are left badly traumatised. Their partners are devastated by guilt because they feel they should have prevented what happened, although it was impossible for them to do so.

Higher qualifications in obstetrics are no guarantee that obstetricians have reasonable judgement, or that they have respectful attitudes to women.