TikToker locums boast of £17k a month pay while NHS staff strike

Ambulance workers and NHS staff to strike days before Christmas

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Doctors are ditching NHS staff jobs for locum shifts as some have been seen bragging on social media about their wages. Medics in their 20s who have just finished their training are opting for temp work over staff jobs as a way of quadrupling their earnings. Some have been seen encouraging other staff to ditch their NHS jobs and follow their lead as they share the benefits on TikTok.

It has been reported that locum staff, a person who steps in temporarily for someone else, rake in hundreds of pounds more than permanent staff as the NHS search for temp staff to combat its staff shortage.

The firms, which cost the NHS £2.5 billion a year, attract young doctors with rates of up to £60 an hour, which is charged back to the health service. 

A comparable NHS position would pay an hourly rate of £13.

It comes as junior doctors are poised to walk out, joining ambulance workers and nurses in strikes over pay. 

Some videos appearing on social media have shown locum staff boasting of £17,000 a month pay cheques for locum work – a big difference to the typical £2,600 monthly salary of a junior NHS staff job.

In one video, 26-year-old Yaa Oheema tells her 6,000 followers that locum work is the way forward. 

“I think a junior doctor’s salary is about £33,000, which ends up being around £2,400 a month and £13/£14 an hour,’ she said. “But actually when you work part-time or as a locum, you can get anything from £35 to £60 an hour. So you can actually work less and make more money.”

Another female TikTok star stretches back on the sofa and smiles as she tells her followers that she’s made “£2,000 working a week as an agency junior doctor versus £625 on a full-time contract”.

In a separate video, a junior doctor shares images of expensive handbags and shoes alongside the caption: “Taking locum shifts purely to afford my fashion taste outside of the wards.”

Locum doctors have been used in the UK for years, but the roles were traditionally for older, more experienced medics who needed flexibility and were able to fill rota gaps during busy periods. But with the cost of living crisis soaring on, younger medics have taken up the positions and are reaping the benefits of the NHS staff shortage crisis.

Under current rules, young doctors can locum in their first and second foundation years, when the NHS pays them annual salaries of between £29,384 and £34,012.

For someone contracted 48 hours of work a week, this breaks down to between £11.77 and £13.63 an hour – a big difference from locum agencies who offer between £25 and £60 an hour. Speaking to the Mail, a final-year medical student, who did not want to be named, said he was “100 per cent going to locum after training”. He added: “First of all, the money rates are a lot better but that’s not the main reason.”

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“It’s for the freedom to choose your own hours, to choose where you work and when you work. We see doctors posting videos talking about their burnout all the time, and there are so many jobs out there, the NHS is always short-staffed so locum jobs will always be available.”

Labour health spokesman Wes Streeting said on Sunday: “It’s infuriating to see vast amounts of taxpayers’ money going straight into the pockets of recruitment agencies, while patients find it impossible to get a GP appointment or an operation on time. The failure to train enough doctors over the past 12 years has left the NHS with no choice but to pay over the odds.”

Commons health and social care committee chairman Steve Brine MP added: “We want to see an overhaul of flexible working to encourage staff to stay in the NHS while being able to choose working arrangements better suited to their lifestyles.”

An NHS spokesman said: “While this story is based on the experiences of some individual accounts, thousands of doctors enter the workforce every year who go on to have long careers in the NHS.”

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