Guide to Becoming a Locum Doctor

(4 minutes to read)

Becoming a locum doctor could mean having a much better work / life balance and you will gain so much in terms of skills and experience, by working with various clients and people. Working in the contracting sector can be extremely rewarding and it isn’t as difficult as some may think, when it comes to starting up.

The contracting sector is continuing to grow in popularity and with the numerous benefits associated with being self-employed, it’s no surprise to see why.

The role of a doctor is without-a-doubt a rewarding one, but at the same time it can also be both demanding and exhausting with working long hours.

As a contractor, you are able to have more control over your career and therefore potentially have a much better work / life balance than a permanent worker.

Other advantages to being self-employed include:

  • Having more freedom and flexibility compared to your permanent counterparts – this means working when you want, being able to choose where you work and taking holiday days as little or as often as you wish (although, just remember that you won’t get paid for this time off!)
  • The majority of contractors can charge a daily or hourly rate much higher than a permanent employee in the same role. Of course, your individual skills and experience might mean your rates could be even higher.
  • You are able to claim back expenses that are made for the running of your business, which can then reduce your tax bill at the end of the tax year.
  • You will gain in terms of skills and experience by working with a number of clients in various environments.

Starting up as a locum doctor

Some people will decide to start up as an umbrella company contractor to begin with, to get a feel of the lifestyle without having as much responsibility, however, you won’t be eligible for as many expenses as a limited company contractor, as you are effectively seen as being an ‘employee’ of the umbrella with your take home pay being less.

Contracting through a limited company is the most tax efficient method of working and comes with a lot more benefits. As mentioned, you will be entitled to a much wider range of expenses, have more tax benefits and have complete control – it’s also not as risky as many people may think, as you are seen as being completely separate to the business, which means should the company face any genuine financial difficulty, you won’t be at risk of losing your personal assets.

A basic checklist to setting up as a limited company contractor:

  • Naming and registering your company through Companies House.
  • Appointing directors, a company secretary (not mandatory) and shareholders.
  • Registering for Corporation Tax.
  • Hiring an accountant, if you so wish, which can be a great help with regards to them offering guidance and advice, as well as being able to save you money and ensure important tax forms etc. are filled out correctly and on time.

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Finding work

Although you may not need a CV for every job that you apply for, it is best to have at hand for those times when a client may request one.

  • Keep your CV to no more than two A4 pages, as any more than this could result in a potential client losing interest or simply not having the time to look through a lengthy document.
  • Make sure you include a personal statement that will sell your skills and let the reader see who you are and what you have to offer.
  • Keep it relevant to the position and company you are applying for and ensure your experience, skills and qualifications stand out.
  • Avoid spelling and grammatical errors and make sure it looks as professional as possible.

There are plenty of sources when it comes to finding work; registering with specialist agencies, such as MedicsPro or Medic International will help with matching your skills with the right contracts.

LinkedIn is another useful one for receiving updated information on the latest job opportunities within the sector.

Rates of pay

When it comes to rates of pay, it will of course vary depending on the client, whether it is the public or private sector you are looking at, your training and experience.

While looking for contracts you should be able to get a good idea of the average rates of pay, but as an example a locum GP can generally expect to make around £120 per hour and a consultant £110 per hour. Of course, when it comes to busy periods such as Christmas, this is likely to increase.

Locum doctors and other health professionals could have quite a bit of power when it comes to negotiating rates of pay. But, it will all depend on the circumstances at the time.

For example, the IR35 changes within the public sector caused many issues for the NHS. With self-employed workers facing lower take home pay due to falling inside the IR35 legislation, the majority of healthcare professionals were turning to the private sector where their status wouldn’t be jeopardised.

This then meant that those who did remain in the NHS had more power with regards to negotiating their rates of pay to make up for the money lost on IR35.

When it comes to negotiating your rates, be mindful that you shouldn’t be charging too much, but at the same time know what is fair and how much you should at least be getting, by doing your research.

Perhaps look to social media sites like LinkedIn to see what is happening within the industry and join groups that may give you an idea as to what your rates should be for your qualifications and experience.

To find out more about making the move to contracting, please call Sophie on 01442 795 100 or email sophie.lewis@dolanaccountancy.com.

Why Dolan Accountancy?

Dolan Accountancy was set up by Simon J Dolan, the man behind the well-known brand SJD Accountancy. With over 25 years experience in the contracting marketing, Dolan Accountancy has the heritage, reputation and credibility you can trust. Working closely with our sister company, ContractorUmbrella, it means we can offer one low cost, fixed fee package at £95 + VAT per month. This gives you the flexibility of using both our Limited Company Accountancy Services and our award winning Umbrella Service, for one inclusive cost. We don’t believe in tiered packages or hidden extra fees, instead we aim to give you everything you need, including:

  • Free Company Formation – This is where it all begins. Once you have decided on an available name, we will form your company free of charge (if using our accountancy services) and it will be ready for you to use in as little as three hours.
  • Free use of ContractorUmbrella – With changes in Public Sector IR35 Legislation we understand that sometimes you are required to contract via an umbrella company. We will keep your limited company ticking over, while you work margin free via our sister company, ContractorUmbrella.
  • A Dedicated Accountant – Your accountant will be there for any company or personal tax advice that you require. We will never outsource work, even to internal teams.
  • Free Access to FreeAgent – The founder behind the multi award winning FreeAgent platform was one of Simon’s first clients, therefore it only seems fitting that we offer all of our clients access to FreeAgent, free of charge.
  • Free Business Banking – We have decided to waive our commission so our clients can use Tide free of charge for the first year.
  • Unlimited IR35 Status Reviews – We will review all of your contracts for IR35 purposes and provide you with our professional opinion as to its status.
  • Free Registered and Director’s Service Office Address – Sometimes you just don’t want your home address on display at Companies House. When you sign up to our accountancy services, we will offer the use of our address as an alternative.
  • Your Business and Personal Taxation Needs – This includes Company Accounts, Director’s Personal Tax Return, VAT Returns, Payroll, Corporation Tax and Dividend advice, to name just a few.

If you’d like to find out more about how Dolan Accountancy can help you and your business, please give us a call on 01442 795100 or email sophie.lewis@dolanaccountancy.com or jaime.thorpe@dolanaccountancy.com.

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