4 Reasons Why Messly is the Best Way to Find Locum Work in 2023
Hi, I'm Abrar 👋
I'm an Anaesthetics Registrar, and I started Messly in 2016 with my friend Chris. We started Messly’s locum finding service because we wanted to create a faster, simpler and more transparent way to find locum work.
We often get asked "What makes Messly so good?" and "Why is Messly better than just joining an agency direct?".
I'll try to answer these question in this article, but firstly. Here's why we started Messly.
As a doctor myself, I saw that more of us want to step off the treadmill of training to explore more diverse careers and work more flexibly. Many of us want to enjoy the flexibility and control of locum work, but finding locum work can feel daunting and frustrating for doctors.
Many are nervous about getting started. And there’s a constant worry that you’re missing out on better paid, more rewarding, or more convenient locums.
So we wanted to create a service that help doctors quickly discover what work is available (anonymously), and make it fast and hassle-free to get registered and start working.
With that aside, here are the 4 main reasons why Messly is better than registering directly directly with an agency.
1️⃣ We list every locum job in one place
When looking for locum work, having more choice is key! It means that you’re more likely to find plenty of locum shift that are perfect fits for you. Here’s how Messly compares to joining an agency directly when it comes to finding you work.
❌ Without Messly
When you register with a locum agency, you only have access to the work that they happen to have available at that moment in time. Some agencies will be able to get you work with many hospitals, whilst others will only have access to a handful. On top of this, some agencies are specialist in certain regions or certain specialties, and will struggle to find you work outside of their specialist areas.
With over 350 locum agencies active in the UK, and this information not being available before you register, it’s a real lottery whether you end up with the ‘right’ agency for you. Although a referral from a friend can help, it doesn't always work out.
Many of our doctors have told us that prior to joining Messly, they picked an agency at random, and simply hoped that that it would just work out. But this is risky, as joining the wrong agency could mean getting less work, lower rates, traveling further, and working outside of your chosen specialty - as this is all they can get you.
✅ With Messly
Messly gives you access to work from over 20 of the best locum agencies in the UK, all in one place.
Through our free app, you'll get ‘pitched’ by top recruiters with suggestions of real locum work that they can get you that must match your Messly ‘Wishlist’ (your pre-set desired rate, location, and specialty). You'll also get to see details of that recruiters’ ratings, left by other doctors.
This means that you’re seeing the most suitable shits from across the entire locum market, giving you more access to work and choice than is possible with one agency alone. As you’ll see below, this is all managed through the Messly app, and can be done completely anonymously.
In 2021, we saw 45,000 locum jobs added to Messly! By giving you access to locum work from all the best agencies, at your fingertips, you’re likely to get better rates, less travel and your pick of departments.
2️⃣ Your pick of the best agencies
As we said above, although there are many agencies around. Not all of them will be right for you, and will have varying reputations and access to work. But we know you only want to work with the best locum agencies.
That's why we spoke to many doctors, ran polls, did secret shopper surveys, submitted 100s of freedom of information requests, and plenty of other research to come up with a shortlist for who the ‘best’ agencies are. We then approached them to use the Messly service, and thankfully they said yes.
But what were the criteria?
📅 Have regular access to work, including being registered on the main NHS supply frameworks for locum doctors
⭐ Good feedback from doctors about their service and access to work
🕔 Efficient registration processes
❌ Without Messly
With over 350 Locum Agencies operating in the UK, the chances of pairing up with a less-than-ideal agency can often boil down to 'pot luck'. This may lead to delays in finding work or only being placed into shifts that aren’t exactly what you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, for some doctors this leads them to believing that ‘locuming isn’t right for me’. They return to a substantive post or just pick up ad-hoc bank shifts, and miss out on the flexibility and financial reward of locum work.
✅ With Messly
You only work with our close selection of pre-vetted agencies. You'll see all their jobs upfront and be able to see reviews written by other doctors, all before you've even started a conversation with them.
By putting the power into the hands of doctors, the agencies are aware that they are competing for you against other agencies. This means they’re more likely to give you a great service and their best rate from the start.
3️⃣ A protected space
Finding locum work can be daunting, especially if it's your first time. This is often made worse by locum agencies letting doctors down, and issues around variable access to work and variable quality as explained above. We've heard many stories of agencies ‘playing games’ - promising higher rates than realistic, or ‘baiting’ doctors into registering with them by offering the doctor’s dream locum gig when that isn’t available.
This then creates a negative cycle where doctors are mis-trustful of locum agencies, and feel like this gives permission to start engaging in bad conduct of their own, such as playing two agencies off against each other for higher rates, cancelling shifts at the last minute without a valid excuse, or even not showing up at all. This perpetuates the cycle.
❌ Without Messly
You're left to chance on whether you find a good agency, which can often create a lot of anxiety about whether you're actually getting the best shifts for you.
Another issues is that when signing up directly with an agency, you'll have no oversight or control of the agencies behaviour, which can sometimes lead to what feel like the ‘black market’ when it comes to finding locum shifts.
✅ With Messly
We set out to create a high-trust environment for doctors to find locum work. That means that you know that who you’re dealing with will treat you fairly. Here’s how we do it.
📜 A Code of Conduct. Doctors and recruiters agree to abide by this when using Messly. You can read these here and here
⭐ Ratings. We collect ratings and feedback from doctors. This creates a good incentive for recruiters to treat you well, as a bad rating will damage their ability to connect with doctors in future
👮 Removing Repeat Offenders. Should we see anyone regularly breaking our code of conduct, we will remove them from Messly immediately
❌ Too Good To Be True? Doctor can flag any rates or jobs that they don’t trust. Our team will then investigate and take action accordingly.
👻 Anonymity. You stay anonymous until you are ready to share contact details. This means that you only work with someone who has gained your trust and won’t ever get spam calls
Frankly, these measures are not perfect and do not work 100% of the time. But we’ve seen that, in aggregate, they are very powerful in creating the high-trust relationships that are helpful to both doctors and recruiters. We keep trying to improve here, and will add extra measures in the coming months.
4️⃣ Tech for you
Unfortunately, in most cases the process of finding work in the NHS hasn’t evolved much in the last 20 years, despite so many technological innovations in that time.
Much of the communication is done over the phone and via emails, and forms are sent as PDFs to print and scan back. For busy doctors working hard in the hospital, where there’s often limited signal, this simply isn’t fit for purpose.
So, we wanted to create a more modern and effortless process for doctors to find locum work that fits around your busy working lives.
❌ Without Messly
You'll unfortunately be faced with a registration process that hasn't changed for almost 2 decades. Think generic phone calls and an endless list of emails and paper forms. This can create the feeling of death by paperwork.
✅ With Messly
Here are some of the things we do to support you in finding locum
👉 Personalised Service - you set your work preference on your profile, and only see locum jobs that match this. This means you don’t have to trawl through 100s of unsuitable jobs before finding the ones for you, and get a personal experience throughout where you’re in control.
👉 Our High-Tech App - Our app lets you set all your work requirements and filters out all the jobs you wouldn't be interested in. It also allows you to see information such as travel time to get to each job, and schedule time to speak to recruiters when it's convenient for you.
👉 We're Mobile -You can do everything from your phone. So feel free to review pitches from agencies, see their jobs and respond all whilst on the go.
👉 Docs - Our Docs service saves you time registering with locum agencies, so you can start working quickly and without hassle. You learn what documents you need to provide, store them in one place and share with locum agencies in one click. You can read more here.
👉 A Dedicated Support Team - We'll guide you through the entire registration process and provide impartial advice on any questions you might have. If looking for work in a low-volume specialty, or expecting an hourly rate that’s difficult to achieve, we can let you know without any ‘agenda’ or bias, to set you on the right path to finding locum work.
We’ve been trusted by over 7,000 doctors so far in their search from locum work. We’re really proud of the feedback we’ve received from doctors, which you can read here.
If you’re looking for the best paid, most rewarding and most convenient locums, head to messly.com and enter your GMC number to get started.
This article is part of a wider series of resources and guides that are designed to support you as a locum doctor, covering areas such as getting your first job, managing your finances, understanding your rights, and many more. Visit our Locum Doctor Hub for everything you need to know about locuming today.
Additionally, if you're considering an F3 year, you might also find it useful to look through the selection of resources we've put together in our F3 Resource Hub.
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