Becoming a locum GP can be a very rewarding move at any stage in a GP’s career. Students can do locum work in between terms and exams to gain experience before or after placement years. Established GPs in permanent positions can become locums to enjoy greater flexibility and explore different avenues, and older GPs can become locums as a way to semi-retire as they can work as and when they choose. Indeed, the onset of Covid-19 encouraged a lot of brave retired practitioners to re-enter the locum market to help administer care for those affected by the virus. Becoming a locum is a relatively simple process, and we have broken it up into three easily digested considerations:
Three simple steps to becoming a locum GP:
1. Register as a limited company
To begin your career as a locum GP you must be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC) as a practitioner or GP, just like you would need to for a permanent position. From there, you will need to register as an independent limited company, which is the most tax-efficient way to work.
The process of setting up your own company and becoming an independent contractor is very simple and can be completed relatively quickly if you are organised and have all your documentation to hand. Once completed, you will be a director of your own company, which will mean being responsible for completing a small amount of additional admin every month. You will be responsible for you own tax and will need to be fiscally responsible in recording your expenses and keeping receipts.
2. Or register with an umbrella company
Some people prefer not to have so much responsibility as an independent contractor with a registered company and are more comfortable registering with an umbrella company which will process admin and paperwork on your behalf. However, registering with an umbrella company will impact your take-home pay as you will be paying tax through the PAYE system, national insurance contributions and paying a fee to the umbrella company itself.
Effectively, you will be an employee of the umbrella company who will process your earnings and make the necessary deductions. Although it is a more convenient way to get locum work, it is not a very tax-efficient way of working and is significantly less lucrative.
3. Source locum assignments
Once you have decided how you want to operate as a locum, you need to start sourcing assignments and opportunities. This is a very exciting moment in your career where you have free reign to decide what kind of work will suit your life and your career goals. Some considerations to make for this step in your journey to locum work are:
• Create an online portfolio: This can be done either by making your own website that has your portfolio and up-to-date CV there for potential employers to consider or creating a well thought out professional profile on a social media site like LinkedIn to attract employers and showcase your experience and skills. LinkedIn also allows you to build a network that could potentially lead to locum working opportunities.
• Get in touch with a locum medical services provider: Getting in touch with a specialist locum medical service provider will be an invaluable way to get the opportunities and assignments that suit you. They build relationships with NHS trusts, independent practices, local authorities, and hospitals around the UK and even internationally so they will be able to assess your requirements and match your skills with the optimal position for you. Recruitment consultants are also able to assist with your with administrative tasks, help you stay on top of your compliance, and help you quickly onboard from assignment to assignment.
Locum doctor salary expectations
As we have discussed, your take-home pay will depend on whether you registered as a limited company and essentially operate as an independent contractor, or if you registered with an umbrella company. On top of that, your day rate will differ depending on the organisation you work for. Typically, working in an independent practice will allow you, or your trusted medical recruitment consultant, to negotiate a higher fee.
What to expect from locum work?
Freedom and flexibility. You will have control over your working hours and can spread your assignments out to accommodate additional training, writing for a medical journal, attending or delivering speeches and talks and conferences, relaxing or focusing on your own health and wellbeing etc.
Locum work means you can expect to oversee many patients and help in different ways; however, locum work does not lend itself to seeing patients repeatedly. This can affect some locums as they miss out on the rewarding aspect of human rapport, however, others find it exciting, ever-changing, and fulfilling work.
If you are considering becoming a locum and are looking for advice on how to register as a limited company or source assignments, our team of professionals are happy to guide you in this. They can help you get your compliance levels up to 100% and help source the best locum opportunities that suit your career goals.