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A guide to NHS Staff Bank / Locum Work

  • June 25, 2018

Once you have started your new position within the NHS you may want to use your weekends or annual leave to take up temporary work to increase your income. In this instance, there are two available options. The first is to take up NHS staff bank work and the second is agency locum work.

In this article we will provide you with a description of each, advantages and disadvantages of each and which option is best for you as an international doctor.

NHS Staff Bank

An NHS staff bank is an organisation managed by an NHS Trust or through a third party organisation that contracts with healthcare professionals to take on shifts at trust hospitals.

In order for hospitals to provide patient safety, quality of care and a culture of collective leadership NHS Trust rely on temporary workers to meet the fluctuating staffing needs caused by staff illness or increased patient demand.

The demand for bank staff offers a lot of benefits:

  • Flexibility – as bank staff, you will be able to choose what shift you take on which provides you with flexibility when choosing to work days over nights or weekdays over weekends.
  • Familiarity – Working within your own Trust’s bank will provide you with familiarity and stability as you will know your own hospital’s patients and doctors on a personal level – making the hand-overs easy and less stressful.
  • Increased experience – staff banks will give you a chance to work within a specialism that you may be looking to develop.
  • Advantageous to the hospitals – staff banks are significantly more cost effective than healthcare agencies and will allow the Trust to maintain a level of safety which they may not have using agency staff.

As you will be on a Tier 2 visa, there will be no restrictions on the number of shifts you can take up within bank staff work. You will be paid monthly along with your salary for any additional bank shifts that you cover.

Agency Locum Work

Alternatively, you may choose to take up temporary work via a medical recruitment agency that provides locum work for doctors. The agency will work with various hospitals across the UK and they will find you temporary work.

To sign up with an agency you will need to send them your CV and then after they have established your relevant experience you will be sent an application pack and be invited for a document verification meeting. The following checks will then be made:

  • Identity checks
  • Right to Work checks
  • Professional registration checks – your GMC licence to practise
  • DBS check
  • Occupational Health Clearance
  • Mandatory Training
  • References

All of the above checks will be aligned with the NHS Employment Check Standards.

The benefits of agency locum work:

  • Variety – you will be able to experience different NHS hospitals and you can earn money whilst exploring career options and possible future work locations.
  • Higher rate of pay – typically, locum agency staff are paid a higher rate than bank staff.

Disadvantages to agency locum work:

  • Lack of support – working as temporary staff in a new hospital you will not receive any support. Often these shifts are available because of high patient demand, so expect a busy shift with no induction.
  • Extra costs – As you are looking for any available work, expect to have to travel further to take on this shift.

Non-EEA doctors: As you will be on a Tier 2 visa, there is a limitation to the number of agency locum hours a doctor can take up at a different hospital – this is a maximum of 20 hours per week. The reason for this is that if you take up more hours at a different hospital you will essentially be working for another employer and not the employer that sponsored your visa.

EEA doctors: As you will have an EU passport and you will have the right to freedom of movement within the European Union and thus will not need a Certificate of Sponsorship – you will not be limited to the number of agency locum hours you can work per week. Please note that this may change in the future as a result of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union.

Which option is best for me?

As an international doctor, who will still be learning about the NHS’ practices and guidelines, whilst still settling into a new country – we advise you to take up additional hours via NHS staff bank. Rather than learning the ways of a new hospital and its staff and patients – do it at your own hospital. This will allow you to feel a lot more confident and comfortable sooner than you think.

You should also note that when a Trust is trying to fill a rota gap, agency locums will only be used if the internal Bank locum cannot be found to cover the hours. So, as bank staff you will get first refusal at shifts even though the pay is generally not as good as an agency.

If you are an international doctor who wants to relocate to the UK and work within the NHS send your CV to [email protected] – and we will be happy to help you. In addition, if you would like support form an online forum of other IMG’s join our Facebook Group IMG Advisor.


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