Working as a locum GP – why it could be your perfect career choice

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The ultimate guide to working as a locum GP

Are you working as a newly qualified GP and deciding on whether to take a locum or salaried position? Or perhaps you’re a qualified GP looking for more flexibility? Working as a locum GP could be the perfect choice for you. 

Learn more about the benefits of becoming a locum GP, the earning potential and how to get started. 

What is a locum GP?

A locum general practitioner is a fully qualified doctor who undertakes the duties of another GP in their absence, within a hospital, GP surgery or other setting. 

Locum GPs, traditionally, take up positions temporarily. This may be due to the full-time GP going on maternity or paternity leave or taking unexpected leave such as for illness or bereavement. However, extended shortages in healthcare can mean you have the option to take up work for longer periods of time. 

What are the benefits of working as a locum GP?

There are a number of benefits to working as a locum GP. Some of the most attractive are:


As a locum GP, you can choose the hours that you work, meaning you can place more emphasis on work-life balance. Whether you’re looking to start a family, are a parent working around your children’s schedule, have other interests or hobbies you want to make time for or are looking to further your education, locum work means you can work around your commitments and aren’t restricted by long contracts. 

Control over your career

Having autonomy over your working life is a big advantage of becoming a locum GP for many people. The freedom to be your own boss and select your own shifts is highly appealing to locum GPs. You can also increase your workload for higher earning potential at times that suit you. 

Expanded skillset

As a locum GP, you can develop new skills and gain hands-on experience in different sectors.  

You’ll be able to meet patients from all walks of life, with a range of different conditions and medical backgrounds to add to your experience. You also have the opportunity to learn from many new doctors and share skills and experience with other colleagues too. 


If you love a varied work schedule that offers you something new to experience, discover and learn every day, locum GP work is the perfect choice for you. You can spend time in a range of different roles and get to work in different environments, with lots of different people. 

Extra time to study

Working in the medical field means there’s naturally a constant need to expand your knowledge and stay up to date with the latest research. Locum shifts allow you to take time out to focus on your studies, as you can accept shifts as and when they are convenient for you. 

Higher rates of pay

Locum work can often offer more earning potential than salaried roles. Read more about this in the next section. 

How much does a locum GP earn?

Working as a locum GP tends to offer a higher overall income than working in a permanent role – however, how much you earn will typically depend on the type of experience you have, your job location and the number of hours you want to work. 

When you become a locum GP, you will typically be working with a locum agency, such as GP World. We will be able to support and advise you on how much you should charge as a locum GP. As we specialise in placing locum GPs, our expert recruitment team will then work with you to make you aware of any shifts that meet your salary and location requirements. 

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How are locum GPs paid?

As a locum agency, GP World offers you a variety of payment methods to choose from. These include: 

  1. PAYE 
  2. An umbrella company 
  3. Through your limited company 

You will often be paid weekly; however, payment dates can vary depending on your preferred payment method. If you are working as a separate self-employed business, you will likely be paid into your direct, or business, bank account, and be responsible for managing your own taxes as required for all self-employed business owners. 

How to become a locum GP

To become a locum GP, you’ll need to be a fully qualified GP who has completed the traditional three-year training programme (or an equivalent route) and be eligible to work in the UK. 

After your training, you will be able to decide between working in salaried positions, partnerships, or locum work. 

To get started working as a locum GP in the UK, you’ll need to complete the following: 

  1. Register with the General Medical Council (GMC) as a GP 
  2. Register as self-employed with HMRC and arrange to pay National Insurance contributions 
  3. Register with an agency to be eligible for work 
  4. Undertake a DBS check for a copy of your criminal record 
  5. Compile and complete compliance documents for GP World 
  6. Follow the General Medical Council (GMC) working practice standards, including arranging an annual appraisal for your revalidation 

When you sign up with a recruitment agency, you’ll be guided through each of the necessary steps by your consultant, who’ll let you know what documents are required and when. 

Becoming a locum GP with GP World

If you’ve worked as a general practitioner in a salaried position for a few years and are looking for a change of pace, flexibility around working your own hours, or require more time to study, becoming a locum GP could be the perfect choice for you. 

Here at GP World, our team of trusted healthcare recruiters specialises in matching the right healthcare professionals with the right employers, creating a secure working relationship that’ll last. Tell us your situation, your preferences, and your must-haves. With the choice of locum, full-time, and fixed-term roles, we will find what works for you. 

We care about you and want you to feel supported throughout every stage of working with us. Browse our list of locum GP jobs to find the best role for you, and register with us online today. 


Discover your next job today 

We connect GPs with exciting job opportunities at some of the UK’s biggest healthcare organisations. We can help manage your job search, so you can focus on doing the work you love.  

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