Do SHO Locum Rates Vary Across the UK?
Locuming as an SHO can be incredibly lucrative. As a full-time locum SHO, you could out-earn registrars and even consultants who are working on full-time NHS contracts. But that won't be the case all across the UK.
It's important to be aware that the hourly pay you receive as a locum can vary significantly depending on the region you’re working in, as well as several other factors.
Here at Messly, we help doctors find locum work from the very best locum agencies. In 2021, we saw over 40,000 individual locum jobs offered on our platform, 23,000 of which were for SHOs.
In this article, we've analysed the data for all the locum jobs on our platform from all across the UK, to help you understand how your SHO locum rates will vary across each region.
🇬🇧 National Average
The UK National average locum rate for SHOs was around £44.08 per hour in 2021. This was taken from all the roles added to the Messly platform, including both core and non-core hours, from all specialties and across all regions in the UK.
🗺️ Heat Map
The table below shows the average hourly pay rates for SHO locums across the various regions in the UK. You can see most regions fall within the £43 per hour to £45 per hour range, with the exception of London which pays far lower, and Wales, North East and Northern Ireland which pay the best.
In the heat map, regions coloured in blue represent the highest rates, whilst red represents the lowest that we saw in our 2021 data.
📈 Ranking Regions
This chart shows the hourly rate as a percentage difference from the national average, where a value of 0% means the region’s rate is at the national average of £43.98. So, for example, a value of -5% represents that the hourly rate in that region is 5% lower than the national average.
Which region pays the most?
Northern Ireland is the top region in the UK for locum rates, with an average of £46.88 per hour, which is 6.35% more than the national average.
Assuming a locum SHO works full time five days per week, doing 10 hour shifts with 30 minute unpaid breaks, for 47 weeks a year... this works out as £104,659 per year, which is over £6,000 more than the national average (£98,414).
Because of this, it’s quite common for SHOs to head over to Northern Ireland to work a short-term block of locum shifts, perhaps over six weeks or so. If you were looking into doing this, it's common to stay in temporary hospital accommodation while you work there if you can negotiate this with your agency.
Other high-paying areas include the North East, which is 3.88% above average, and Wales, which is 3.22% above average.
Please note, this data is averaged across all specialties. However, some specialties also pay significantly higher than others, which provides you with even more opportunity to increase your pay as a locum. For a similar data-driven exploration of this, read our article, SHO Locum Rates: Which Specialties Pay Best?
Which region pays the least?
Hospitals in Greater London have collectively agreed to cap the hourly rates they'll pay locum doctors, as part of a cost-cutting measure. These is the called the Pan London Rate Cap. You can learn more about this in a related article here, where we go into detail on what rates to expect while working as a locum in London.
If you’re locuming in London, you can expect to be paid between 5% (North and East London) and 8% (South and West London) lower than the national average rates. What does this look like in terms of average hourly rates?
⬆️ North London - £41.94
➡️ East London - £41.94
⬇️ South London - £40.41
⬅️ West London - £40.49
This might not look like a lot, but when using the same calculations as above, if you're working nine-hour shifts five days per week, this equates to £90,215 per year for South London, which is £8,200 less than the national average.
💰 How to Maximise Your Locum Earnings
If you're curious to learn more about which regions and specialties have the most available jobs for locum doctors, we've done plenty more research to help you maximise the amount your can earn while locuming.
Check out some of our other recent articles here:
📈 Locum Doctor Salary Calculator
Our LDSC lets you calculate how much you could earn as a Locum Doctor depending on your grade, region and specialty. You can also use it to work out answers to questions such as 'Can I earn more than my Consultant as a Locum?', or 'How many days a week will I need to work to match my F2 Salary?'.
🎯 How Messly Can Help
Messly is a faster, simpler, and more transparent way to find locum work. We make the very best locum agencies compete to find you the work you want.
How does it work? Firstly, you create your profile in the app, and specify exactly what kind of locum work you want, what rates you expect, how far you’ll travel, whether you’ll work anti-social hours, and more. It works for doctors of all grades, across the whole of the UK, for work in the NHS and private sectors.
You’ll then receive offers of locum work from locum agencies. You see real shifts with hospital details, rates, and rotas, all matched specifically to your preferences, plus ratings of those agencies from other doctors.
You can then choose which shifts you want to accept, using the app to compare rates and travel distances, and reading the recruiters’ pitches to you.
When you see an opportunity you like, you can then schedule a convenient time to speak to the agency. Only then do you share your contact information, and only ever with the agencies you’ve selected, so you won’t get any unwanted emails or phone calls.
We’ll then help you through the registration process, so you can start working quickly and without any hassle.
By giving you access to locum work from all the best agencies, you stand a much better chance of earning the highest rates, with less travel, and your pick of departments.
🔎 Notes on Methodology
The data above is based on an analysis of locum jobs added to Messly since January 1, 2021. Jobs are only added by pre-vetted locum agencies who have been approved to join Messly. Each job is added with a lower rate and upper rate to show the range within which the job pays.
Before jobs are added to Messly, they're checked by our team, and erroneous rates are investigated so jobs can be removed if their rates can't be verified.
The data in this chart shows the average of the lower and upper rates, to give the most common pay range available for each specialty.
Only specialties with more than 100 shifts have been added to the chart. GP data is not included due to our low sample size.
This article is part of our Locum Data Hub, a collection of data-driven guides and resources that explore the numbers behind locuming, helping you solve challenges with things such as pay, budgeting, job searches, and much more.
For a comprehensive list of articles designed to support you as a locum doctor, visit our Locum Doctor Hub for everything you need to know about locuming today. Covering areas such as getting started as a locum, finances, understanding your rights, and many more.
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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