Intended for healthcare professionals


Locum pay since the cap

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 24 May 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j2488
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}


In the last three months of 2016 pay for locum doctors reached the highest since a cap on the hourly rate that NHS trusts could pay locums was introduced in November 2015, figures indicate. Trusts can still hire staff above the capped rate when there is a legitimate patient safety requirement.


Liaison, a company that manages staff payment systems, gathered data on locums’ pay and agency commission rates paid by 58 NHS trusts between October and December 2016. The average hourly rate for locum doctors rose by 1.4% in that period, from £63.30 to £64.17.


Average rates for consultants and doctors in the third year of specialty training (ST3) rose by 1.8% and 2.4%, respectively. The average hourly pay for ST3 locums was £60.74, while the highest recorded hourly pay in this group was £120. Overall, the average rate for consultant and ST3 locums rose by £1.66 and £1.44 an hour, respectively. In contrast, the average commission rate for foundation year 2 locums fell by 2.9%.


Locum consultants in radiology received the highest average hourly rate of all the specialties, at £104.18 an hour. However, the highest rate was seen in general medicine, at £187.50 an hour. This was the highest rate recorded by Liaison since it started its analysis in 2013-14.


The East of England paid the highest amount in locums’ pay and agency commission rates for general medical consultants, at £121 per hour. It paid £33 an hour more than Yorkshire and Humber, which paid the least. London trusts also paid a high total pay and commission rate, at £120 an hour.


Unfilled permanent positions accounted for 85.9% of locum bookings, a slight decrease from July to September 2016, when they accounted for 87% of bookings. Bookings made because of clashes or gaps in rotas rose from 5% in July to September to 7.5% in October to December.