Locum Rates: What Can I Expect?
This article is a guide to help you know what to expect to be paid as a locum doctor, including a general overview of the UK pay rates, as well as an explanation of the pan-London rates.
For advice on managing tax codes, National Insurance, pensions, and more as a locum doctor, see our article on managing finances with specialist advice from our friends at Medics Money.
How much can I expect to be paid hourly as a locum doctor?
The pay rates can vary widely depending on factors such as the region, specialty, your grade, and the types of shifts (core vs non-core hours) you’d be willing to do. We’ve written a number of in-depth guides on how these factors can affect pay, you can read these here.
As a rough guide, if you choose to work outside of London you can expect the following gross hourly rates for core shifts on average, possibly with around £5 -10 per hour more for nights and weekends:
👉 SHO: Junior SHOs: £35 -£45, Senior SHOs: £40 - £50 sometimes slightly lower in popular specialities
👉 Registrar: £55-80 per hour, or more as you get closer to CCT
👉 Consultant: £80+ per hour
Bear in mind that there's a lot of variation based on the hospital, region, and your specialty. With that in mind, we'd advise you to speak to a few different Staff Banks and agencies, as well as your colleagues, to get a better sense of what you should be paid in your own circumstances.
What are core and non-core hours?
Core hours - Defined as any work carried out between 7am and 7pm.
Non-Core hours - Are defined as any work carried out between 7pm and 7am.
For non-core hours, locum doctors will normally paid an increased hourly rate to reflect the unsocial nature of working these hours.
What are the pan-London locum rates and where do they apply?
Pan-London rates are agreed rates which hospitals within Greater London (roughly the M25 boundary) have agreed to pay locum doctors. This applies to locum work both through Staff Banks and agencies alike.
👉 SHO: Rates here are £36 per hour for core hours and £42 for non-core hours.
👉 Registrar: Rates are £44 per hour for core hours and £52 for non-core hours. There tends to be more flexibility for Registrars than SHOs, with £55-60 per hour for core hours achievable in some cases.
👉 Consultant: The rate is £75 per hour for core hours, but there's much more flexibility here and variation between specialties.
There are cases where the hospitals can escalate rates above these levels (called ‘break-glass’ provisions), which varies from hospital to hospital. Typically, however, if you're looking for a longer-term block of locum jobs in London this will be at the pan-London rates.
Some locum doctors living in London do decide to travel outside the M25 to work at hospitals with better rates, which tend to be around £40-42 for SHO core hours and £48-50 for SHO non-core hours.
If you want to learn more about the Pan-London rates, check out our article on London Locum Rates.
What hourly rate can I expect after taxes and deductions?
Calculating what your hourly rate after all deductions are made, can vary greatly between individuals as you’ll need to consider the following deductions:
- Tax Code and taxable income - Are you on the basic or higher rate?
- Student Loans - Whether you have any and what your repayment plan is?
- Pensions - Not every agency or bank will sign you up for the NHS pensions as it’s expensive for the employer
We won’t get into how much you’ll pay for each of these deductions here as they’re quite complex topics, but you can read more about them in our 2 articles here below.
However, here’s how much you can expect to take home in 2022 (Net), based on working 8 hours a day (with a 30-minute unpaid break), on Repayment Plan 2 (Student Loans), and contributing to the NHS Pension at the following rates:
👉 SHO on £45/h: Daily Rate (£191.85), Hourly Rate (£25.58)
👉 Registrar on £70/h: Daily Rate (£280.24), Hourly Rate (£37.37)
👉 Consultant on £90/h: Daily Rate (£350.10), Hourly Rate (£46.68)
You can do your own calculations for your own circumstances using this calculator here.
What could I earn as a monthly salary as a locum doctor?
An SHO working three days per week could expect to earn around £5,800 per month. This assumes pay of £45 per hour with 10-hour shifts. You'll then deduct tax, National Insurance, and pension to get your take-home pay. Find out more about how to interpret your locum payslips here.
Obviously, if you work more or fewer hours and get a different hourly rate this will change. But, overall, you'll find that working as a locum doctor is significantly more lucrative than a substantive post.
To make things easier for you, we've created the Locum Doctor Salary Calculator which will work out your expected gross annual locum salary, based on your grade, specialty and region. For more information about how it works, check out this article.
However, it’s important to remember that you need to plan your finances in advance before you start locuming. Work can dry up quickly, and you're generally not entitled to sick pay. It’s therefore important to get a safety fund together to ensure your fixed monthly costs are covered each month, as well as allow you to achieve any other financial goals you might have.
How can I increase my rates?
We’ve written a couple of great articles about this that will go into greater detail, but the easiest way to increase your rates are as follows:
- Increase your shift options. The more options you have, the more options you’ll have to work higher paying shifts. We recommend signing up to 2-3 agencies and at least 1 staff bank
- Increase your travel distance (especially if you’re a Londoner). Travelling just outside of Greater London can increase your locum pay by over 25%.
- Consider working unsocial hours. This is not for everyone, but these shifts are usually paid much better, and may even be escalated considerably higher if Trusts struggle to fill these shifts
- Negotiate your salary. You can find more details on this in our article below.
Check out the following two articles for more tips
Is there anything else I need to consider?
There are a few more things to consider that may affect your ability to work, for instance, becoming pregnant or unwell. This can cause a lot of unnecessary stress, that’s why it’s important to find out your rights and entitlements as a locum doctor. You can find our article on this here.
Additionally, it’s not uncommon for work to dry up temporarily in certain hospitals, or even parts of the country. That’s why it’s important to spread your net wide, keep some savings, and consider all your options in these scenarios. Our article “How To Make a Living as a Full-Time Locum Doctor” will go into great detail on these issues.
Summary of our top tips!
- Speak to colleagues to get an idea of the hourly rate you can expect at your Trust
- Speak to your agency to get advice about which pay rate you should propose for each shift. Some Trusts have fixed amounts and some can be negotiated.
- Research your rights and entitlements as a locum doctor, as well as look into how to prevent yourself from long periods without work.
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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