Interested in being a locum doctor? 3 things you MUST do before you quit your current job.
The decision to transition from a substantial post working with the NHS to a locum work is, like any career-switch, daunting and must be well planned. In this post I will share with you the 3 things you MUST have before you take that locum career plunge. In the UK there are currently 50 Locum Doctor agencies that will cater to providing you work nationwide. Part of their job is to ensure you meet the criteria to work as a doctor. Locum agencies have the challenging task of making sure you have the right documents at the right time before they can even approach hospitals with your talent. If you know what you need and how you can get prepared, it can take you less than 2 weeks to start your dream as a locum doctor.
- Locum agencies will typically ask for the following documents
- Registration pack: This document is usually 10 pages long and you are asked to fill out everything from your personal details, bank and company details (which I will explain later) to a detailed list of your previous employment. Have your CV close by.
- Criminal record check: This is by far the most important document. Without a criminal record check, you will not be placed to work. Talk to your locum agency representative (LAR) for advice, more importantly they should tell you where to send the form once you have filled and signed your part. Unnecessary delays can be due to the form not reaching the right people on time.
- Utility bills: You should have 3 utility bills, each not older than 3 months. So what falls under utility bills you ask? Well that would be anything that proves you are who you are living at that given address (bank statements, landline-phone statements, Insurance statements, gas/water/electricity bills).
- Diplomas: You need to have your medical diploma at hand, so keep a scanned version of it ready to send. In case you have not gotten your medical diploma in the UK you must also have an approved English language certificate. Visit gov.uk for a detailed list of test sites.
- Passport: You need a valid copy of your passport as well as its front cover.
- Medical report: You must have a valid health declaration report of vaccinations including measles, rubella, varicella, BCG, Hepatitis b (titer levels), Hep C, HIV, Hep b surface antigen, TBC/mantoux test result (if needed). You can get this report through a private clinic or through your GP in the UK. Schedule at least 2 visits to the clinic and it should take about 2 weeks to complete.
- HB compliance certificates. Your LAR should give you login details to hbcompliance.co.uk. You will have access to theory and multiple choice questions to courses including adult basic life support, fire safety, health and safety, infection control, information governance, manual handling, mental capacity act, child/vulnerable adult safeguarding. Schedule about 4 hours to complete all certification Make sure you keep your login details safe so that you can always access the tests or certificates at a later time.
- Recent photograph: A recent passport photo will do just fine since this will be used on your locum badge.
- References: These can unfortunately take quite a while to arrange. Once you know you are going to pursue a career in locum, let your colleagues know that they will be receiving requests from a few agencies to fill out. A generic letter may not be sufficient for the locum agency. It is also wise to send a thank you card showing appreciation for their time
- Medical Insurance: Although you will locum in NHS hospitals, you will no longer get automatic insurance cover under the NHS once you become a locum doctor. You absolutely need supplementary cover that will protect you in case an unfortunate incident occurs and you are held (partly) accountable. Visit websites such as Hamilton Fraser, Medical Insurance Consultants, MDDUS and MDU websites.
- Get yourself a decent and reliable automobile: As a locum doctor you may have no idea where you will be working from one month to the next so invest in a decent car that is going to get you from point A to B safely and comfortably. Don’t go overboard though, make sure you can comfortably afford payments if you did not have locum work for a few months.
- Open a Private Limited Company and get an accountant. You can either get an accountant, who will register your company for you and that is that, or you can register it yourself and within 5 days you are done. The reason you should get an accountant anyway is because if you are serious about making this a career, you need someone who will assist you with making sure you pay your taxes on time to avoid penalties. An accountant will typically charge about £500-700 per year to do all the financial part of things. Just make sure you have all your business expenses and income ready and updated. Another option is to go through an umbrella service. They typically charge £20 per week for their services, however you are bound to them for a period of time and getting out of an agreement with them can cost you money. TIP: you need to have your private limited company set up in order to open a business account. Your locum agency will only be able to pay to your business bank account.
Summary: The hard part is quitting your current post, the easy part is contacting locum agencies to get work. Avoid any delays in starting your locum work by planning and preparing on time. Once you start your locum work, you are opening your life and career to a new world where you are your own boss, you take on jobs that suit you and most importantly you get to invest in yourself. In the following posts I will tell you why you are not just a ‘locum doctor’ you are a business.
Tip: Scan each document and save it to your hard-drive or cloud for easy access. You never know when they will come in handy again.
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