Locum healthcare workers: What does it mean?

31 August 2021  •  Locum
Locum healthcare workers: What does it mean?

What does locum mean in the healthcare sector? There are many things that ‘locum’ entails for nurses and other locum workers more generally, from increased travel experience to specific skillsets.

Whether you’re a prospective locum nurse looking for answers or you’re simply curious about what this term means, you’ve come to the right place.

Globe Locums has over 4,000+ clients to facilitate locum candidates. For more information on what the term could mean for you as a clinician, read more below.

What does locum mean?

The word is derived from the Latin phrase ‘locum tenens’ which means ‘place holder’. A locum is defined as a person who temporarily fulfils another individual's duties.

Locum personnel usually have the same level of training as their peers and fulfil the duties of staff on temporary planned leave or on short notice.

How are locum healthcare workers used?

In the UK, there is an estimated 17,000 GPs working as locums and they are considered to be vital to the NHS workforce.

Locum healthcare workers perform their jobs without being responsible for other roles within a medical practice. They are a temporary solution to staffing shortages, which is incredibly important when considering the healthcare industry’s requirement for continuity of service.

When medical practitioners take work-related leave or holidays, or if they indeterminately fall ill, locums are there to cover for them. Practices may also recruit locum workers whilst they search for permanent staff.

Locum jobs in the UK may also be affected by COVID-19, so read our guide to learn more.

What skills are needed to become a locum-level clinician?

Prospective locums should visit the practice they intend to work for to satisfy any questions or concerns for both parties.

At a base-level, locum-level clinicians should always prepare an up-to-date CV with succinct information laid out carefully. Relevant information will include registration details, experience and skillset, and availability.

Forget wishy-washy information. For example, locums nurses should do their best to outline which systems they have encountered and are competent with, including System 1 and Emis. As a locum nurse, all competencies must be in line with NMC Code and you are accountable for all that you label.

Remember to detail your skills in full. As a healthcare professional, are you aware of procedures for certain medical injections – such as Prostap and Vitamin B12? Is there anything you can't administer? Do you have local knowledge as directed by Patient Group Directions? All this information is necessary.

Other information that medical practices may require from locum nurses is whether they are familiar with blood sampling and whether you can adequately print patient notes and scans.

What are the advantages of working as a locum?


Locums have a great level of flexibility when it comes to working arrangements. You get to choose where and when you’d like to work and can switch between full-time and part-time hours as and when required. You can also book holidays without the chance that they may not be approved.

Are you a healthcare professional looking to expand your skillset? Consider locum biomedical scientist jobs or opt for an audiologist locum agency for further shifts that challenge your capabilities.


Locums have the opportunity to travel widely. Globe Locums alone has connections in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and the UK so that you can advance your career worldwide.

As a locum healthcare professional, you can experience healthcare practices on different scales, from large international hospitals to remote village facilities. In most cases, employers will pay for your expenses.

Financial benefits

Although all healthcare professions offer great salary opportunities, locum workers experience lucrative financial benefits by comparison.

These financial benefits come from the fact that locum workers are required on a short, and often urgent, notice. This means that clients are more likely to pay more to fill the position as quickly as possible.

Expand your knowledge and challenge your capabilites

Locum work allows healthcare workers to gain experience in new and challenging environments. The diverse range of skills acquired exposes locums to new opportunities.

The same work environment can become stale after a while, but locum work will ensure that you are constantly diversifying your occupational capacity.

Such work will diversify your CV and consider which area/specialism works well for you.


Constant moving

Locum placements require individuals to move between places for several months or a few days at a time – and often at very short notice. This can be stressful for someone who prefers structure and likes to plan in advance.

Also, the travel element involved in locum work may not be suitable for individuals who have a family or partner, or who are restricted to a certain geographical area for locum-level work.

Varying salary

There is a range of jobs available with locum-level entry. This includes locum dietetics jobs, locum mortuary jobs, and more. Naturally, pay fluctuates according to each job, which means that locum work comes without a standard salary package.

However, this is usually offset by the fact that locums receive higher pay than regular workers regardless.

Irregular work patterns

There will be times when locum placements suffer a downturn period. This could mean that locum health workers will have to compromise on location or type of placements to maintain a steady workflow.

However, if you work with an agency, you're more likely to secure regular work according to your geographical and job type specification.

In conclusion

Locum work is a great option for those who are looking to diversify their work and grow their capabilities. The team at Globe Locums are staffing specialists that recruit for a wide range of healthcare sectors, including occupational therapy, optometry, and pharmacy. We also provide plenty of tips for international locums looking to work in the UK too.

To get started, find a job through our site today.

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