The Benefits of Working With Agencies vs Banks
If you’re looking to pick up work as a locum doctor during an F3 or locum year, you’ll either be working through the hospital’s own Staff Bank or finding work through one or more locum agencies.
In this article, we’ll explain the benefits of working with both, and how a locum agency can augment the experience of joining a Staff Bank.
For more information about how Staff Banks and locum agencies operate and a breakdown of their pros and cons, you can check this article here.
Working with both
As a locum doctor, you’re free to join both a Staff Bank and a locum agency at the same time. It’s not a mutually exclusive decision and there are benefits for doing so, which we’ll talk about later.
Just be sure to know that a locum agency cannot find you work at any hospital or Trust where you are already signed up to the Staff Bank. This is because of a non-compete clause that saves them in paying agency fees.
It’s also worth noting that some Staff Banks have joined forces to form Regional Banks to help address regional shortages. If your bank is a part of one of these, then you cannot find work through an agency in any of the hospitals attached to this.
The cooling-off period
If you do decide to leave your Staff Bank for whatever reason (i.e. inconsistent shifts, slow pay, better rates elsewhere) at a later date, please know that most banks now have a “cooling off” period where you cannot find any work at any of their sites. The duration of this is depended on the individual Trust, however, 6 weeks is normally a standard.
Benefits of agencies
📅 Better for middle to long-term placements.
Agencies can help to book you into long-term roles to help fill a rota gap. These longer-term shifts are normally around 3-6 months, and there is sometimes the opportunity to extend these further in the same hospital. Whilst this is also possible with banks, you’ll have to negotiate these yourself with the rota-coordinator. But often shifts are released en masse and it can be a scramble to book these yourself, so you end up with a mix n’ match of shifts.
💻 You can work in multiple Trusts by registering once.
This allows you to explore the different working environments for the various specialties and their departments at lots of different hospital locations - so that you make a good decision about where you work in the future for your F3 year…and if you decide to go back into training, you’ll be in a better place to pick your specialty and location. I.e. You wouldn’t buy the first car you saw for sale.
➕ Access to more shifts
Being a part of both an agency and a bank will give you a greater spread of work options. You have the freedom to pick up local shifts on the bank when they’re available or use an agency's contact to multiple Trusts to book up shifts when you want more long-term stability or to find work if you find you’re not getting enough at your bank. This means that if you have financial goals, it makes sense to have this consistency by exploring both options in parallel.
💰 More options means better rates.
Being part of both a Staff Bank and an agency gives you access to a greater number of shifts. You can use this to your advantage and instruct your agency to only look for locum shifts with higher paying rates than your own Bank. This means that you can keep working at your Bank and work at other Trusts when it’s worth your while. Over time you’ll learn the different “Market Rates” for your grade and experience at the various Trusts which can help you negotiate your own hourly rate, either directly with your bank or through your recruiter with the other Trusts you work at.
We strongly believe that there’s power in having a greater choice. Whether it’s to explore your work options for your locum year, help decide on your specialty and location, find more consistency, or find the best possible hourly rates. That’s why we’d recommend joining at least 1 Staff Bank and 2 - 3 agencies.
That means registering with Staff Banks of those Trusts where you’ve worked before, or places you know you’ll definitely want to access lots of shifts... but only if you know that the Staff Bank is well-organised. We must say, as a word of warning, that once you’re registered with the Staff Bank agencies cannot find you work there, so this is a commitment to working only through the Staff Bank at that Trust.
You should also register with a small number of agencies so they can also be proactively looking for suitable shifts that meet your needs.
The key challenge is recognising that all the locum agencies will claim to have access to the best work at the best rates. You’re going to need to know which ones have the right work before you register with them, and you’re not sure who will genuinely look after your best interests.
Messly’s new service has flipped the process around to put you in control, allowing you to find locum work quickly and easily on your terms. You create a profile which says exactly what kinds of work you're looking for, where in the country you want to work, and what rates you expect, and let the opportunities come your way.
You'll then be ‘pitched’ by multiple agencies, offering you relevant shifts matched to your specified needs and preferences, and you only register with the ones you like. You can read more information about our new service before you get started here.
How Messly can help
Working with a good and well-organised bank is sometimes a more convenient option and some doctors do try to solely do all their locum work through a singular bank, at least to begin with. This is not without its own set of struggles, mainly with securing enough work to meet financial goals or having the opportunity to explore other hospitals.
However, if at any point your goals change or you want to augment your bank experience with the additional benefits of also working with agencies, then we can help!
Find locum work on your terms
The best locum agencies together in one place, competing to find you the best locum shifts. Managed for free through your Messly account.