Locum Doctors: Freelancers & the NHS

Financial records accessed by BBC News have this week revealed how there has been record revenue for staff agencies supplying the NHS. Companies who are providing freelancers, locums and agency staff to the NHS to cover huge shortages of doctors and nurses have seen their income rise by tens of millions of pounds since 2019.

In light of a global pandemic, protests over pay and a backlog that the NHS is still struggling with, the news doesn’t come as a huge surprise, as the NHS continues to care for the nation.

Freelancers have been needed in the NHS to:

  • Recover from Covid
  • Reduce backlogs
  • Help with difficulties discharging medically fit patients, due to delays in community care

BBC news pulled together the report by looking at financial records of around 20 agency businesses who have been providing freelance staff to the NHS to cover the shortages. Hospitals need freelance doctors and nurses to fill gaps in rotas.

Medacs Healthcare, which calls itself the “largest supplier of locum doctors to the NHS”, reported an 80% increase in sales, to £160.9m, between 2019 and 2021.

Another agency, ID Medical, who claim to be the largest UK provider of healthcare professionals to the NHS, reported a turnover of £145.4m in 2022. This is an increase of 15% since 2019.

Staff shortages mean the NHS is being forced to spend more and more on freelance cover – at a cost that is more than those salaried and working directly for the NHS.

A Freedom of Information request by the Labour party in December revealed one hospital had paid £5,200 for a single shift by a freelance doctor. It’s no surprise that more and more doctors and nurses worked as a locum either full time, or part time in locum posts as a side hustle.

Many are able to work reduced hours for higher pay, which is great for professionals, but not good for NHS budgets. The report from BBC News follows on from their investigations at the end of 2022, when they found that total spending on agency staff in England had been £3bn in 2021, up 20%.

Working as a Locum Doctor in 2023

As a locum doctor, you don’t want to be involved in any politics. Your focus is providing the best possible care to your patients. However, it is important to remember that you are also running a business and keeping up with the latest news and changes in how you run your business will ensure your business runs smoothly.

When you’re looking to become a locum doctor, you should consider how you want to work. The most popular way of doing so is to set up a limited company, as this is the most tax-efficient way to work.

Managing your finances can be time-consuming and overwhelming, which is why working with an accountant can be hugely beneficial.

How Gorilla Accounting can help you as a Locum Doctor

Tax Planning and Compliance

One of the key areas where Gorilla can help a locum doctor is with tax planning and compliance. Tax laws tend to change often, especially after different Budgets are announced and the New Tax Year begins. A good accountant, who is an expert in your field and gets to know you and your business inside and out can help you navigate these changes and advise you on the most tax-efficient ways to structure your business.

Bookkeeping and Accounting

Keeping accurate records of your finances is crucial for any business, especially with Making Tax Digital. As a locum doctor, you will likely have multiple income streams, expenses, and invoices to manage and it’s much easier to keep everything in one place.

All of our clients at Gorilla Accounting get access to FreeAgent. You can access all of your incomes and expenses on the go, no matter where you are as it is completely digital and cloud-based.

Your dedicated accountant can ensure that your financial records are up-to-date and accurate. They can also help you create financial reports that provide insights into your business’s performance and identify areas for improvement.

Planning your Finances

Your accountant can help you get the most from your finances, but helping you with budgeting and forecasting, and ensuring that your income streams work in every situation. Being a locum means you won’t necessarily come home with the same pay each month, so your finances need to reflect this. They can advise you on how to allocate your resources effectively and make the most of your income.

Business Advice

Running a business can be challenging, and as a locum doctor, you may be facing unique challenges. When you’re working on your own, you might not have anyone on hand to run things by or get a different perspective from. An accountant can provide business advice, helping you with everything from pricing and invoicing to managing cash flow. They can also help you identify opportunities for growth should you need it.

Save Time and Focus on what you do best

Above all, working with an accountant can save you time. As a locum doctor, your time is valuable, and by outsourcing your financial management to an accountant, you can free up time to focus on your patients and your practice. An accountant can take care of your financial paperwork and administration, leaving you with more time to do what you do best.

Joining Gorilla Accounting

If you’re looking for a forward-thinking, tech-savvy accountant, switching to Gorilla is so easy. We have vast experience working with businesses in a diverse range of industries and sectors. Our main area of expertise is contractors, freelancers and locums – we’re able to support a wide range of small businesses and SMEs.

Ready to join Gorilla? Fill in our online form here or call us on 0330 107 9674.