Allied Health Podcast Series 1 Episode 14

Working in the UK as a Locum Allied Health Professional

In Episode 14 of Allied Health Podcast Clare and Danielle discuss their experience working in the UK as a locum Occupational Therapist and Locum Physiotherapist respectively. They also outline job opportunities and paperwork and preparation you need to plan to be eligible to work in the UK.

Speaker You’re listening to Allied Health podcast, talking all things Allied Health with your hosts, Danielle Weedon, physiotherapist, and Clare Jones, occupational therapist.

Danielle Weedon In this episode of Allied Health podcast, Clare and I are going to discuss working as a locum therapist in the UK. As you all already know, Clare’s an OT by background and I’m a physio, so we’re both allied health professionals and we both happen to also early in our careers, head to the UK and do the working holiday thing. And this is actually where we met. So traditionally, it’s been a rite of passage for Aussies and New Zealanders to head over to the UK and work. And one of the perks of having an allied health qualification is that you can work in your chosen career path and earn really good money while you’re at it. Currently there’s still huge demand for Aussie and New Zealand therapists in locum roles across the NHS, private practices and local councils in the UK. And obviously given the COVID situation, there are less therapists heading over there to travel, but we’re expecting it to pick up and change in the next 6 to 12 months as borders reopen.

Clare Jones So I’m just going to give you a little bit of an idea of what you need to prepare in order to be ready to work as a locum in the UK. So the first thing you need to do is work out if you’re actually eligible to work over there. So you may have a British passport in which case you’re all set to go. Commonly, we see therapists going over on either a youth mobility visa, which Commonwealth citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 are eligible for. And there is talk at the moment of it increasing to age 35 and also increasing from two years to three years. So that’s exciting. And we also see a lot of people head over on an on an ancestry visa. You also need to gain registration with HCPC. So this is the Health and Care Professions Council. So if you are an OT, physio, a speechie, a radiographer, dietitian, biomed scientist and podiatrist, I got them all, I think so, you’ll need to register with HCPC. Now it’s quite a lengthy written application. It takes around three to six months to be processed. It does rely on your university completing part of the application, which can take a bit of time. And it will also cost you, I think, from, to gain full registration with HCPC, it costs around about $1400 Australian dollars. Now, in addition to applying for your visa and getting registered with HCPC, you’ll also need to provide us with quite a bit of paperwork, including an Australian police certificate and an application for UK police certificate. But don’t be overwhelmed by all of that. We’re here to help you every step of the way. So Danielle and myself will get you ready, with all your preparations that you need. We’ll assist with all of that. And then we’ll hand you over to our partner company over in the UK who find you your locum jobs. So Dan, do you want to talk a little bit about grades and the grading of locums?

Danielle Weedon Yep, yep. Yep. So there’s bandings in the UK for allied health professionals. As a grad, you’d typically allocated as a Band 5 therapist and then Band 6 is for therapists with anywhere between two to three years of post-grad experience, Band 7 is anywhere roughly about four to five years post-grad experience with specialist skills and management experience likely. And Band 6 is more experience again. So sorry, Band 8 is more experience again. So roughly we’re seeing band 6 of your two to three years out postgraduate. Band 6 therapists are roughly earning anywhere between twenty four to twenty seven pounds per hour,

Clare Jones OK, and just a few key pieces of advice. I guess for me, it is possible to head straight to the UK after you’ve graduated, but I think the best thing to do is to have at least 12 months experience before you head over. It’s great to just consolidate all your generic skills, you know, here in Australia or New Zealand, wherever you might be, and become confident in your clinical skills before you head over. Because as locums, you can be dropped in the deep end, and you, you may not have the amount of supervision and support that you would have here in a permanent, role. So 12 months experience is a minimum amount of experience I recommend for therapists to go over with. Allow six to 12 months to get all the preparations done. And the other thing is we’ve got locums available all over the UK in a variety of specialties. When you first arrive, given that you don’t have any UK experience, it’s best to be as flexible as you can be regarding location. So if you arrive in London and say I, for example, want a hand therapy job in Notting Hill, it’s going to be difficult to secure that you that role, but if you go over and say, Look, I’m happy to travel and I’m happy to do just, you know, any sort of general role, you’ve got more of a chance of picking locum work up really quickly. The other benefit of working in more regional areas in the UK is that you’ve more than likely going to be able to use hospital accommodation with the role that’s commonly on offer with locums in more regional areas. So have you got anything to add to that Dan?

Danielle Weedon No, not really. Mainly, like Clare said about being flexible with clinical speciality and location. And even with the length of time you’re available, like when you first get there, you might say, Look, I really only want to do two weeks of work and then I want to travel. I think you’re best to be pretty flexible about how long you want to work for. And also, you can save pounds to travel on, which is better than the Aussie dollar or the Kiwi dollar. So be flexible about the length of locum you take, the clinical specialty and the location. And I do know heaps of – I was lucky in a couple of my locum roles, but I do know lots of therapists that actually ended up getting like a rolling locum role. So they didn’t just have two weeks and then that was it. They had, you know, they might have done four to six weeks in a role, and then took two weeks of holidays and came back to that same locum role, which most people I know quite enjoyed because it probably wasn’t as daunting as starting a new role each time.

Clare Jones Yeah, that’s what actually happened to me. I secured a locum at Wellington Hospital actually, in St John’s Wood in London, and I think it was a four week locum. But it ended up rolling on and I actually ended up leaving that locum after a couple of months to come home. It was a really good fit for me. I really enjoyed the team there, I really enjoyed the hospital, I really enjoyed the work, so I just stayed on. So where did you start Dan over there and what was your…

Danielle Weedon I started in London. I mostly worked for sort of bit over two years in London, yeah. So I started it up in Chase Farm Hospital, which was north of London. But I was less than 12 months experience, so I took any role I could take. And I worked in geriatric rehab at Chase Farm Hospital. Like I said, I was living in a really good living in Bayswater, which is central London. A great location and I loved it because I just jumped on a couple of different tubes, changed stations got the overland to Enfield and that was a really big hospital group. So I actually met a whole heap of other Aussie and New Zealand and South African therapists that were also working there as locums. So it sort of helped with my network at the time as well. And, you know, a big, wide world out there of new people.

Clare Jones Mm-hmm. And did you, you also did quite a bit of community work, didn’t you?

Danielle Weedon Yes, after I did my stints on and off at Enfield, at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, I ended up securing a locum role in community rehab in West London, in Ealing, at Ealing Day Treatment Centre, which was great because I did community neuro rehab and I was given a car as part of the role which actually allowed me to well, navigating London streets was fiddly at the time. But I’m not too bad a driver, so that was good.

Clare Jones That’s a great perk. I never had a role that offered a car.

Danielle Weedon It was so good. It was so good. For 18 months or nearly two years really, I had a car which just meant I could, you know, pop over a couple of hours away, to Wales, head to Cardiff with friends or Bristol or we went down to Cornwall or lots of, you know, nothing’s that far really to get to, so the car was a definite perk as part of the role. But I did love community. I love the autonomy of community role as well. And then I actually did a stint, I was thinking about the other night, I did a short stint in pulmonary rehab at Ealing Hospital, which is a huge tertiary hospital over there. And that was good too, because it was never going to be an area of specialty for me, but I got some experience in it, in an established pulmonary rehab programme, so that was good also. What did you do at Wellington? But then you also worked in Dublin, didn’t you?

Clare Jones Yeah, I did. I actually started in Dublin. I decided I’d do something different and I had a lot of friends working in London and I decided that I’d go and start working in Dublin, and I managed to get an OT at James’ Hospital. It was a bit convoluted at the time because it was a separate registration process. I had to get registered. Dublin, being in the Republic of Ireland is separate to the UK site. So I had to get registered in Ireland in order to work at James’s Hospital. It was definitely worth it. It was a fantastic experience, lots and lots of fun. And then after a stint there, I made my way down to London to join the pack and was living in Kilburn. And yeah, as I said, I got a locum role at Wellington in the next suburb over St John’s Wood, so I was, I didn’t really need a car Dan because I was walking to work each day.

Danielle Weedon What speciality was it?

Clare Jones It was acute. It was general acute. And the Wellington’s actually got an amazing rehab unit and and an acute unit. And it also takes a lot of, well it did when I was working there, it took in a lot of injured military personnel from the Middle East. So there was a lot of really interesting, really interesting work there. Really very, very different population to what I’d been working with in Australia. I gained lots and lots of great clinical skills from that particular locum. It was great.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, it’s fun. It’s worth doing. It is fun.

Clare Jones Definitely, definitely. I know when I was trying to work out what I was, you know what I was going to study when I was 17 and I was looking at the pros and cons of a number of things. And I thought, Well, if I do, you know, an allied health degree, if I do OT, I’ll definitely be able to live and work overseas. And I’m so glad I did it. I’m so glad I did. It was definitely been a highlight of my, of my career.

Danielle Weedon Yeah, I agree. And we said it earlier. But really to be able to earn really good money while you’re there, you’re not, you know, having to earn [?] wages in pubs or doing nannying work. I think it is such a perk. And know you can go there and pick up six or eight weeks of work, earning really, really good money and travelling on that, is great.

Clare Jones I actually did, I actually did a clinical placement as an OT in London. I did one clinical placement in Vancouver, Canada, and then when I went across to London and I was living, literally living, on the smell of an oily rag. And when you say that you had, you know, Bayswater was such a fantastic spot. I remember staying on the floor at a friend’s apartment in Bayswater when I was a student; we all had no money at all and it was filled with bedbugs. So saying then going back as a qualified OT and actually earning good money and being able to afford to live somewhere without bedbugs, that was quite nice. And travel and travel well, you had it.

Danielle Weedon You had that to compare it with.

Clare Jones Yeah, absolutely. So while the student placement in London and Canada, they were very interesting and very worthwhile. I really did love working as a professional over there, much more. So that’s it from us. As I say, we’ve got a great guide to working in the UK. This is just a brief overview. So obviously we haven’t gone into detail about everything that you need to do in to prepare to work in the UK, but just give us a call, send us an email and ask us any questions you want. We’re here to help and as you say, we highly recommend it. So thanks for listening and stay tuned for the next episode of Allied Health Podcast.

Speaker We hope you enjoyed listening to the Allied Health Podcast. In the show’s notes, you’ll find links to our free recruitment resources, job opportunities and health care marketplace insights. To listen to new episodes, please subscribe via Apple, Google or wherever you find your favourite podcast and if you’ve enjoyed the show, please give it a five star rating and review. And be sure to tell your therapy colleagues and friends to tune in.