When a member of staff becomes unavailable, locum practice nurses can be a huge asset to the general practice team to avoid great disruption of care. If you’re between jobs or looking to top up existing hours, becoming a locum practice nurse could be a great option.

Locum practice nurses can often face some specific challenges. They often do not have easy access to systems or structures in place to support their continuing professional development, appraisal, revalidation, and governance. This page provides information to consider before working as or employing a locum practice nurse.

The advantages of being a locum include:

  • The flexibility of being able to choose when and where to work, and how often
  • Being self employed means you are in charge of yourself
  • The financial benefits of being able to set your own pay rates and can claim many more expenses against your tax bill
  • Working at various locations can increase knowledge and understanding of different working practices to learn from

The disadvantages of being a locum include:

  • A lack of job security as there is no guarantee of work
  • It can be lonely being a locum without continuity of familiar peer support
  • There is no automatic entitlement to holiday or sick pay, no paid study leave and no guarantee of an increase in pay
  • It can be difficult to revalidate due to lack of regular CPD time with peers
  • The time and cost of getting to and from different places of work may build up

Agency worker locum practice nurse

Nursing agencies provide locum practice nurses and you can be added to their register of qualified staff. The agencies also deal with tax, national insurance and find the latest vacancies. However employing agency staff this can be expensive for practices.

As an agency worker you could choose the hours that you want to work. This makes agency work a popular choice for parents and those with personal commitments as there is no obligation to work on particular days and you only need accept the shifts that you are able to work. Likewise, the flexibility of agency work is often attractive to retired nurses who would like to refresh their skills or supplement their income.

Read the Royal College of Nursing guide for agency workers which includes information about employment status, rights and health checks.

Self-employed locum practice nurse

You may become a self-employed locum practice nurse or even set up a limited company. This will mean you have to deal with tax, national insurance and pension payments yourself. The HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Employment Status Indicator (ESI) tool can be useful for checking employment status for tax purposes.

NHS employees are automatically given indemnity cover through the employers’ vicarious liability. If you are self-employed or a limited company you must have indemnity insurance in place, such as the Royal College of Nursing indemnity insurance, to cover you against the financial consequences of a claim against you for clinical negligence.

To boost your chances of getting locum work it is important to create an accurate and up-to-date CV will. This should be clearly laid out and provide succinct information about your experience, registration details, availability and skills.

Practice Nursing is a specialised role and you shoud ensure that you have up-to-date skills and experience in chronic disease management, cervical cytology, child health (including immunisations and vaccinations), travel health and wound care.

When recruiting a locum practice nurse you must check that they have the documentation required to carry out their job, and for employment purposes. On the first day, it’s advisable to set some time aside to go through a brief induction, as you would a permanently employed member of staff.

Documentation to consider includes proof of:

  • Identity
  • Eligibility to work in the UK
  • Professional qualifications
  • Registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council
  • Recent Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check
  • Indemnity insurance cover
  • Immunisation history
  • Medical history

The Greater Manchester Workforce Bank available through the platform provider Lantum has now been extended to include access to Nurses at https://info.lantum.com/greater_manchester.

Lantum is not a locum agency but a digital platform which supports services/providers to reach out to doctors and Nurses who have clinical capacity.

I am a practice, how do I access the Workforce Nursing Bank?

You can sign up or update your account at https://info.lantum.com/greater_manchester. There is a template to support listing of sessions. If you need help to register or training to access the rostering service, please contact Lantum directly at support@lantum.com.

How are qualifications/registration checked?

As part of the on-boarding process Lantum will verify NMC, ID, CV and DBS. However with any employment, practices are encouraged to satisfy themselves of an individuals qualifications and right to work. It will be the practices responsibility to complete employment checks for the required session as well as ensuring PGD’s are signed where appropriate.

Nurse Status?

Bank Nurses are classed as self employed.

I am a Nurse and want to register?

Nurses can register independently at https://info.lantum.com/greater_manchester.

Further information

For further information visit https://info.lantum.com/greater_manchester or email england.primarycarecomms@nhs.net.

The RCGP’s First5 Transition Handbook includes a short section with career and financial advice for locums who are RCGP members. Find out more about it at www.rcgp.org.uk/first5.

The BMA Sessional and locum GP contract guidance provides information about resources for salaried GPs, locum GPs and their employers, including handbooks, model contracts, advice for negotiations and employment rights. Find out more about it at www.bma.org.uk/advice/employment/contracts/sessional-and-locum-gp-contracts/locum-gp-handbook.