A Guide for Potential Locum Doctors – Duties, Benefits & Job Roles | CVLocum

Are you a doctor in the UK looking to get into locum work? Learn more about being a locum doctor and how it can benefit your professional career with this helpful guide from CVLocum.

If you’re a doctor in the UK looking for job opportunities, you may have heard about locum work. Locum doctors work as temporary staff, providing clinical services where needed. This alternative work model has become increasingly popular among healthcare professionals, especially in the last few years. However, working as a locum doctor comes with a unique set of benefits, challenges, and job roles. In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide for potential locum doctors. We’ll talk about the duties and responsibilities of locum doctors, the benefits of working as a locum, and the job roles available. Moreover, we’ll provide insights into the application process, important considerations for locum work, and more.

So what is a Locum Doctor?

A locum doctor is essentially a temporary doctor, who provides clinical services where needed, usually for a period of weeks or months. Locum work can range from a few locum shifts per month to full-time locum jobs, depending on the need for doctors in different NHS trusts or other healthcare organisations. The General Medical Council (GMC) recognises locum doctors as agency workers and you need to have completed registration with the General Medical council as if you were a full time Doctor. As such, locum doctors are still bound by the same professional duties as permanent staff, and the same medical school and post-graduate training requirements.

Fully qualified doctors can work as locum doctors after completing their foundation programme and gaining clinical experience. Junior doctors who are still in specialty training can also work as locums, provided they meet certain criteria. The British Medical Association (BMA) notes that locums should have previous experience relevant to the type of work they are performing. In addition, locum doctors must be capable of working independently and providing safe, effective patient care.

Permanent Doctor vs Locum Doctor.

Permanent doctors typically have a fixed schedule and work in a consistent location. Regular doctors have ongoing responsibilities within the organisation, such as managing patient caseloads, participating in team meetings, and contributing to the overall functioning of the healthcare setting.

On the other hand, a locum doctor is a temporary or freelance doctor who fills in for regular doctors when they are unavailable due to various reasons such as illness, vacation, or training. Locum doctors provide short-term or interim coverage in different healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and general practices. They may work on a flexible basis, accepting assignments for specific periods or shifts. Locum doctors often bring a wealth of experience and adaptability to different healthcare settings.

Overall, the main difference between regular and locum doctors in the UK lies in their employment status and the duration of their service. Regular doctors have permanent positions within healthcare organisations, while locum doctors provide temporary medical coverage.

Advantages of Locum work:

Flexibility – Locum doctors have the freedom to choose when and where they work. They can select assignments that fit their schedule and personal preferences, allowing for a better work-life balance.

Variety of Work Environments – Locum doctors have the opportunity to work in a variety of healthcare settings, including different hospitals, clinics, and practices. This exposure allows them to gain diverse experience, learn new skills, and broaden their professional network.

Professional Development – Working as a locum doctor often involves stepping into different healthcare teams and collaborating with various medical professionals. This exposure enhances their clinical knowledge, adaptability, and communication skills, promoting continuous professional development.

Higher Earning Potential – Locum doctors may have the potential to earn higher rates compared to full-time doctors, especially if they work in high-demand areas or during periods of staff shortage. They have more control over their income and can negotiate their rates based on their expertise and experience.

Autonomy and Independence – Locum doctors have more autonomy in their practice, as they are not tied to the administrative responsibilities and organisational structures of a permanent position. They can focus more on patient care and medical decision-making.

Work-Life Balance – The flexibility of locum work allows doctors to have more control over their schedules, enabling them to pursue personal interests, engage in other activities, and maintain a healthier work-life balance.

Exposure to Different Systems – Working as a locum doctor exposes individuals to various healthcare systems, policies, and practices. This experience can broaden their understanding of different approaches to patient care and contribute to their professional growth.

Disadvantages of Locum Work:

Lack of Job Security – Locum doctors typically work on temporary contracts or assignments, which means they may face periods of uncertainty between assignments. There is no guaranteed long-term employment or job security associated with locum work.

Inconsistent Income – Unlike full-time doctors who receive a steady salary, locum doctors’ income can be variable and dependent on the availability of assignments. There may be times when the workload is low, leading to financial instability.

Limited Benefits and Entitlements – Locum doctors may not receive the same benefits and entitlements as full-time employees. This can include reduced access to pension schemes, paid leave, sick pay, and other benefits provided to permanent staff.

Less Continuity of Care – Working as a locum doctor means frequently moving between different healthcare settings and teams. This can result in less continuity of care for patients, as agency workers may not have the opportunity to develop long-term relationships with patients or be involved in their ongoing treatment plans.

Higher Administrative Burden – Locum doctors may face additional administrative responsibilities, such as managing their own taxes, contracts, and invoicing. They may need to handle the business aspects of their work independently or seek assistance from external sources.

Limited Career Progression – Full-time doctors often have the advantage of career progression within a specific healthcare organisation or specialty. Locum doctors may have fewer opportunities for career advancement or specialisation as they move between different settings and may be seen as more temporary members of the healthcare team.

Potential for Burnout – The nature of locum work, with its variable schedules, different working environments, and potential for long hours, can increase the risk of burnout. Locum doctors may face challenges in maintaining a healthy work-life balance and managing the demands of their profession.

Average Doctor Salary Permanent vs Locum:

The average salary for a locum doctor in the UK can vary significantly depending on factors such as experience, specialty, and location. Locum doctors typically earn an hourly or daily rate rather than a fixed annual salary.

If you were working as a locum GP on full time hours you could expect to earn a total gross annual income of around £191,000 per year.

On the other hand, the average salary for a fully qualified doctor working a permanent GP position in the UK depends on their grade, experience, specialty, and location. According to the latest available data, you can expect to receive an average annual salary of £86,000 per year.

Getting Paid, Umbrella Company Advantages vs LTD.

Simplicity – Operating through an umbrella company is simpler and involves less administrative work compared to setting up and managing a limited company. The umbrella company takes care of tasks such as invoicing, tax calculations (national insurance contributions), and payroll on a weekly or monthly basis, allowing contractors to focus on their work.

Employment benefits – Contractors working through an umbrella company are considered employees of the company. This means they may have access to certain employment benefits, such as statutory sick pay, holiday pay, and pension schemes.

Tax efficiency – While limited companies may provide more tax planning options, umbrella companies still offer tax advantages. Umbrella company contractors can claim allowable expenses and are typically taxed under the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system, avoiding the administrative burden of managing taxes themselves.

Quick setup – Joining an umbrella company is a quick and straightforward process and can take as little as 24 hours. Contractors can start working under the umbrella company without the need for complex company formations or registrations.

Flexibility – Contractors working through an umbrella company can easily switch between assignments or contracts without the need for making changes to their employment structure or company setup. This flexibility allows for seamless transitions between different projects or clients.

Getting Paid, Limited Company Advantages vs Umbrella.

Tax efficiency – Operating through a limited company can potentially provide greater tax planning opportunities. Contractors can take advantage of tax-deductible expenses, dividends, and potential tax-saving strategies.

Business control – Having a limited company gives contractors full control over their business operations. They can make decisions regarding contracts, invoicing, and financial management, allowing for a more independent and autonomous approach.

Professional image – Working as a limited company can enhance the professional image of contractors. Clients and potential employers may perceive limited companies as more established and serious businesses, which can contribute to credibility and potentially attract higher-paying contracts.

Be aware of IR35:

In simple terms IR35 is a set of tax regulations in the UK that determines whether a contractor/locum is considered an employee for tax purposes. It affects both umbrella company and limited company contractors, including doctors.

If the client (NHS Trusts) determine you are inside of IR35, then an umbrella company would be used and you would be deemed as an employee and if you are deemed outside of IR35 then you are free to choose between a Limited company or an umbrella company and can be deemed as self employed.

Determining whether you are outside of IR35:

Determining whether you are outside of IR35 comes down to the following various factors related to the contract and the actual working arrangements. The main factors that are considered include:

Control – If the contractor has control over how the work is performed, including when, where, and how it is done, it indicates a self-employed status.

Substitution – If the contractor has the right to send a substitute or engage someone else to do the work on their behalf, it suggests self-employment.

Mutuality of Obligation – If there is no obligation for the client to provide work, and the contractor has the freedom to accept or decline assignments, it leans towards self-employment.

Financial Risk – If the contractor bears financial risk, such as covering business expenses, it suggests self-employment.

Equipment and Tools – If the contractor provides their own equipment and tools necessary to perform the work, it indicates self-employment.

Integration – If the contractor is integrated into the client’s organisation and works as part of their team, it leans towards employment.

Working a role outside of IR35 as a doctor is possible but can be few and far between, it’s important to establish with your agency whether you fall inside or outside of this legislation otherwise you could be subject to further tax liability, penalties, backdated Claims, loss of Tax Benefits and Future Opportunities.

Where to find a Locum Job or Locum agencies:

To work as a locum doctor, you’ll need to register with a locum agency or NHS organisations that provides locum posts. A locum agency act as intermediaries between locum doctors and healthcare organisations that require short-term staffing solutions. They provide support and ensure that the locum doctor is competent, safe, and capable of delivering the highest standard of care to patients. NHS professionals can also work as locums through the NHS Improvement platform.

Ready to take your medical career to the next level? Look no further than our locum jobs board, featuring hundreds of exciting doctor openings just waiting for someone like you. Don’t miss this opportunity to land your dream job and make a difference in the healthcare industry. Start browsing now!

Alternatively, find our user-friendly job board platform below: