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Relocation Packages and Relocation Support

  • November 15, 2022

When relocating as an IMG to the NHS, relocation packages and relocation support are not to be confused. One provides you with financial support for the material aspects of your move and the other brings pastoral care and guidance to you and your family.

Relocation packages are granted by NHS Trusts to Doctors joining them to cover some of the financial demands that come from their relocation. They might cover travel, accommodation, registrations, visa costs and more. That said, not all trusts will offer such packages and there are often stringent criteria that you need to meet in order to qualify so check before proceeding. 

Relocation support is a completely different aspect and you should really consider how much financial assistance will really help you when measured against the emotional and practical guidance that comes from having a Relocation Executive to guide you through the entire relocation process. Relocation support comes in many forms which we’ll discuss in this article however the most comprehensive guidance is likely to come from a specialist recruitment and relocation agency like BDI Resourcing.


Relocation Packages

Will I get a relocation package if I move to the NHS?

The only fair way to answer this question is to say that each NHS Trust will have their own policy and each doctor will find themselves subject to different possibilities. Here are some considerations:

  • Some NHS Trusts have no relocation policy. Don’t think of this as a bad thing necessarily as it is often the case that they don’t need a policy since they are well staffed and don’t need to offer such attractive onboarding perks. Maybe they have a reputation for excellence or training and support which could be far more important to you than the cost of a single plane ticket.
  • No two NHS relocation policies are the same. Since they aren’t agreed nationally at NHS Employers level, relocation policies are localised usually to Trust level and all cover different things. Just because you’ve seen that a relocation package is available, check exactly what it covers and if that is going to be helpful to you.
  • The headline figure might not tell the full story. A relocation package of £8,000 might sound like a huge amount of money however you need to be sure that you’ve read the small print. If the policy only covers a single economy plane ticket and your GMC Registration fee then you’ll struggle to reach £8,000 and the headline figure really isn’t as exciting as it seems.
  • Relocation packages are sometimes reserved for certain applicants. It is very common for relocation policies to stipulate that they are only applicable to candidates joining niche specialisms or at senior grades. Again, you shouldn’t get too excited if you see that there is a relocation package until you know that it will definitely apply to the grade and speciality that you are applying too.

What will an NHS Trust relocation package include?

As we’ve mentioned, relocation packages vary depending on a number of factors including the Trust and the level of demand for your post. Check the terms for exact specifics but common items that you can claim for include:

  • Air travel
  • Airport transfers
  • Registration fees (GMC, IELTS, MRCP)
  • Short term accommodation
  • Long term accommodation
  • Visa costs
  • Shipping costs
  • Basic necessities like essential furnishings

There will almost always be a limit on the amount that can be claimed and we recommend confirming in writing what you intend to claim for, as well as the associated costs, ahead of accepting so that there are no surprises later on. Be realistic about what you’re claiming for as well – if you’re travelling with family, does the policy cover their expenses too or are you asking for too much. Equally, if you’re claiming for something like airport transfers, they’ll need to be cost effective so show that you’ve considered all modes of transport and times of travel before booking.

What receipts will I need to keep to claim relocation expenses?

Keep everything! It’s better to be able to provide full information on your expenses than find you don’t have them later on. Keep in mind that your bookings might be done online so you could keep email trails as well. If you’re paying for things in a different currency to pounds sterling then you might want to request to pay in sterling or take a record of the associated exchange rate on the day. Expect to have your receipts scrutinised and keep as much detail as you can.

Will I have to pay back my Relocation Expenses if I leave?

If you have signed a contract to join your NHS employer for 12 months or 24 months and agreed to receive expenses for your relocation as part of that, there is likely to be a repayment clause applicable. Most will operate on a sliding scale so you might be expected to pay back the full amount if you leave within the first few months and then reducing proportions as your tenure goes on. We can’t stress enough that relocation packages shouldn’t be seen as free money! They are meant for genuine relocation purposes and for those who are looking to relocate and settle on a long term basis.


Relocation Support

What help can a Relocation Executive offer?

Financial support is great but in reality the logistics, emotional support and less tangible aspects of an international move are sometimes far more challenging than the costs themselves. We help hundreds of doctors relocate to the NHS every year and have invested heavily in providing the support and guidance to IMGs at every step of their journey. Our reviews are testimony to the support and guidance our candidates get but you’ll very rarely notice them highlighting the financial support of a relocation package over the support and guidance they get from their dedicated relocation executive.

So you’re probably wondering what that process looks like and how they can help? Well, everyone will be different but here’s what a Relocation Executive at BDI Resourcing will do as standard for each and every doctor that relocates with us:

Meeting with your designated Relocation Officer

Once you have accepted a position, we will arrange a video call via Microsoft Teams with yourself, your Recruitment Consultant & one of our Relocation Officers. If your family have questions or would like to join you, then we welcome that as we want you all to feel happy and comfortable with your move.

The purpose of the call is to introduce you to your Relocation Executive who will be assisting with your relocation from this point onwards. During the meeting we will talk through a number of points including:

  • What documents we’ll require to request your Certificate of Sponsorship
  • How to make your visa application & what supporting documents you’ll need
  • Booking flights and travel arrangements
  • How we’ll source temporary & long-term accommodation options
  • Schooling / education in the UK

This is also a great opportunity to ask any questions you might have. Everyone’s circumstances are totally different so we’ll try and build a picture of what support you’ll need and how we can support.

You’ll also leave with a clear timeline and set of actions or next steps for your relocation process. The aim is for you and your family to leave the call, feeling comfortable and ready for your move.

Your Relocation Officer will then create a WhatsApp group with you and your family, so you have an easy way of communicating or sending documents across over the coming weeks and months.

Getting your Certificate of Sponsorship

In order to request your Certificate of Sponsorship, we will require you to send us a number of documents which will be requested via email once you’ve accepted a position. We’ll assist you to gather:

  • Passport and current BRP (if applicable)
  • Police Clearances cover 10 years of residency
  • GMC Certificate or Invitation to ID Check
  • References covering the last three years of clinical practise
  • Proofs of Address from your current residence

We will also require at least two references to cover the last three years of clinical practice.

Once we have these documents, your Relocation Officer will forward them to the Trust and formally request your certificate of sponsorship. Allocation can happy quickly however the usually processing time for most Trusts will be 2-3 weeks.

Making your visa application

Once you have your Certificate of Sponsorship and have gathered your supporting documents, you can make your visa application.

Once you have drafted an application, you can save it as a PDF and send it to your Relocation Officer, who will double check the answers & ensure everything is correct.

Once you have submitted your application, you can book your biometrics appointment.

Official home office guidance states that Health and Care visas should be processed in under 3 weeks from the date of your biometrics appointment however the reality is sometimes a little longer depending on application volumes at the time.

If your visa application has particularly unique circumstances or if you receive requests for further information, don’t worry, your relocation executive will be on hand to help you with your responses. We’re proud to say that we have a 100% success rate for visa applications.

Booking your flight

Now that you have received your visa, you will be able to book your flight to the UK. Our relocation team will look at all available travel options for you, considering the various points of entry to the UK. They’ll also guide you with transfers and travel arrangements to get you from the airport to your accommodation.

We do not recommend booking a flight until you have got your visa in hand as if there is any delay with your visa application, it may mean you have to cancel or re-schedule your flight.

You must ensure the date you are booking your flight for, is on or after the entry date on your vignette sticker.

Securing accommodation

After booking your flight, we recommend booking some temporary accommodation for 3-4 weeks, e.g. a hotel or AirBnB. Everyone has different requirements for this and if you’re travelling alone a hotel might be easier whilst whole families might want the facilities of self-catered AirBnB style accommodation. Your Relocation Officer can assist with finding lots of different options to choose from according to your preferences and budget.

Temporary accommodation is usually a necessity as you’ll be unable to secure a long term rental until you have your BRP and are able to physically view properties. Whilst staying in your temporary facilities, we’ll complete a full property search with local estate agents, make the enquiries on your behalf and set up viewings.

Long term rental applications can be a little complicated so we’ll help you complete these, whilst also providing proof of employment letters or references if they are required.

Arriving & settling into the UK

Once you arrive in the UK, there are a few things which can be done ahead of starting in post:

  • Collect your BRP card from the post office
  • Pick up a UK sim card to activate a UK number
  • Set yourself up with a UK bank account
  • View and apply to schools for your children

All of these will be arranged by your Relocation Executive on your behalf with an itinerary of where and when you need to attend appointments.

Pre-employment checks once in the UK

Before you can start in post, the Trust will require you to complete a few pre-employment checks:

  1. Occupational Health check – your Relocation Officer will assist you with booking an appointment ahead of your arrival. Once you have attended the appointment, it usually takes around a week for the clearance to come through.
  2. ID check – the HR team will ask you to visit them in person, or will arrange a meeting via Microsoft Teams, to check your original ID documents, Police Clearance Certificates & Certificates of Experience.
  3. DBS check – you will need to complete an enhanced DBS check which is a check on your criminal convictions and cautions record in the UK.

Starting in post

Once you have cleared the pre-employment checks, your Relocation Officer will liaise with the HR team to arrange your first day in post.

They will also provide you with your reporting instructions and assist you with preparing for your first day.

Your Relocation Officer & Recruitment Consultant will continue to support you, should you need any assistance throughout your career in the NHS.

Where can I go for relocation support and how can I trust the information I’ve received?

There’s a wealth of information available online these days with hundreds of IMG Blogs and Agencies offering their slant on how things should be done but how do you know what they are writing is correct and do they really have the credentials to be offering out advice? We can’t stress enough the importance of seeking reliable advice. Taking the top 5 options for relocation support in turn, here’s our top tips on what to look out for:

  • Online Forums – by all means post your queries in online communities however, be wary of the responses and fact check everything. The person responding may only have had limited experience of relocation and their experience may be totally different to yours. At the very least, check the response against a few sources to be sure. The surge of ‘IMG celebrities’ is fantastic but keep in mind that those individuals are one doctor, relocating from one country at one point in time. They will only have limited knowledge so be sure to fact check with other sources.
  • Agency Guidance – most agencies that operate in the UK, will display their credentials on their website and those that are part of national NHS Frameworks (crown commercial service or HTE) will have had to undergo rigorous vetting to achieve that status. That said, before proceeding you should always check reviews on Google or Facebook to see how others have found their experience. If your agent are operating in your home country they won’t be regulated by UK employment law or guidance set out by regulatory bodies in the UK. They may be reputable but be wary.
  • Friends and Family – well you can be absolutely sure that you trust them and they have your best interests at heart however do ask yourself what experience they really have. Have they made the move before themselves and did they share similar circumstances to you? It’s sometimes difficult to ignore the advice of those closest to you however it’s always worth sense checking it.
  • Official sources – Frustratingly, there are lots of different sources available depending on what your query relates to however they’re relatively straight forward to get to. The GMC provide comprehensive guidance on your registration, the gov.uk website has huge amounts of information on visa applications and NHS Employers publish a lot of detail around employment and work conditions. Whilst this guidance will always be the most accurate, it can also be complicated and difficult to decipher so make sure you are checking it against the context of your relocation.
  • HR Departments – Your employer will assign you to a team who will assist with all aspects of your relocation. That said, keep in mind that each hospitals employs thousands of workers so these teams are incredibly busy. It may be frustrating that you don’t receive immediate responses but be patient as HR Teams will be doing their best and want to help you as much as they can. You should also be aware that the main priority of your HR Team will be to complete your pre-employment checks so that you are able to work – they might not have the manpower to be able to assist you with the logistical and pastoral support for your move.

Do I have to pay for Relocation Assistance?

A massive benefit of opting to use BDI Resourcing as your agency when finding an NHS position is that you are assigned a relocation assistant free of charge. We’ve been doing this for years and believe that the support you get should be comprehensive and without any cost to you however if you’re making the move without the assistance of an agency, you should still make sure that you aren’t paying out money for external guidance.

For the vast majority of cases, the wealth of information out there will be enough to get you to the UK without paying for any additional consultation. That said, if your situation is unique or you are particularly struggling at some stage of the process you may need to seek external guidance. As per the above, be wary of the sources that you use and if you are being asked to part with money for any aspect of relocation guidance then check with multiple sources that you aren’t being ripped off.


Has this been helpful?

Thanks so much for reading and if you’d like to ask us a question or get in touch then we’re always available on email via [email protected] or on any of our social channels. If you enjoyed this article, then you might like to learn more about NHS Payscales Explained and How much tax do Doctors pay in the UK?

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