Career clinic: should I become a locum

A: Locum numbers and their pay rates have stabilised. This is largely because some councils want to reduce their spending on recruitment agencies. They have been encouraged to do this by the government. In general, this has been good news for the reputation of agency workers because they are now seen as wanting to locum for the right reasons, rather that just for an enhanced salary (even though this is often still offered).

If you are thinking of working as a locum, you need to bear in mind the following.

● Give it some time – all employers need to see that you have an up to date Criminal Records Bureau check (the checks are not portable) and references. If you are employed directly you will need to give yourself time to obtain the checks. If you are going through an agency they will do this for you, but you still need to build in time.

● Research agencies. Check their reputation and don’t be afraid to ask hiring managers which agencies they prefer and why. Pick an agency that will pay for your CRB check and make sure they are confident of finding you suitable positions.

● Interview your agency – do they have jobs in all the areas you would consider working in? Will you have a personal consultant? Are they the person who is speaking to you? Do you like them? Ask what checks they would do on you. If an agency says you can work next week, they are unlikely to have done all the checks if they are audited. This could result in your job being cut short.

● Whether your contracts are found directly or through an agency while in post, use the opportunity to meet other hiring managers.

● Make sure your agency either offers training or a CPD fund. Although it may seem some way off, you will need to do at least 15 days of training to re-register with the General Social Care Council (and this could be an expensive outlay for you).

● Use an agency with local offices. This means you are likely to get the best job opportunities and service because you will be able to meet a local agency face-to-face, who will know the local market.

Richard Smith is health and social care director at social care recruitment firm Beresford Blake Thomas, Richard will be contributing a regular column about being a locum.

REaders’ views: Save some money from your wages to spend on pension/holiday pay – that’s one of the reasons locums are paid more than permanent staff. From CB on CareSpace


“I qualified as a social worker three years ago when the training wasn’t generic. I chose the community care adults pathway. Would I need to do extra training to work in children’s services?” We will answer this question in the 17 July issue of Community Care. We want to publish readers’ advice too – send it to by 10 July.

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