A guide to joining a nursing agency in the UK for overseas nurses

A guide to joining a nursing agency in the UK for overseas nurses

Each year thousands of overseas nurses apply for permanent jobs in the United Kingdom. The dream is to hold a role within the National Health Service (NHS), one of the most respected healthcare systems in the world. A role within one of the NHS’ many organisations (also known as trusts or health boards) will not only improve your skills and knowledge, it will also look great on your resume.

If you are one of the lucky applicants to land a permanent nursing job within an NHS trust or health board, an exciting career awaits you. But did you know there is a way to broaden your nursing skills, earn extra money and experience difference work settings; all while you continue to develop and thrive in the NHS role you love? The answer is agency nursing.

What is agency nursing?

Also referred to as ‘temporary nursing’ or ‘temping’, agency nursing is a popular way for NHS nurses in permanent jobs (also known as substantive posts) to earn additional income by working extra shifts in different NHS trusts, or within private hospitals.

So rather than being employed directly by the NHS, agency nurses are employed by a nursing recruitment agency (also known as a nursing agency), such as Medacs Healthcare, and placed into specific temporary, short-term shift-based roles; work that cannot be filled by an NHS trust’s permanent staff.

Agency nursing is similar to the ‘bank’ work offered by NHS trusts. However, rather than being restricted to working additional shifts within your trust, agency nursing allows you to work for numerous trusts, which means you can experience new settings and learn new skills.

What are the advantages of agency nursing?

Working as an agency nurse in the UK has a range of benefits. These include:

  • Skills development – improve your overall practice by working and gaining experience in a wide range of clinical departments
  • Additional income – work extra shifts that fit around your work and lifestyle
  • Broaden your horizons – while working as a permanent nurse in the NHS usually means you can only work within a single trust, agency work enables you to work in different trusts

What nursing work can I do as an agency nurse?

As an agency nurse, you have the opportunity to gain more experience in your current role. This will allow you to improve your practice by working in different locations or hone your skills within the same trust.

If you are keen to explore different specialties during your time as an agency nurse, consult your recruitment consultant for more information.

How do I qualify to become an agency nurse?

To be eligible to register with a recruitment agency for temporary work in the UK, you must:

  • Hold a valid NMC PIN (Personal Identification Number) - Most overseas nurses are able to gain an NMC PIN within three months of starting their UK employment. However, if you do not pass your OSCE exam at the first or second attempt, this can take up to six months.
  • Complete a minimum of six months’ full-time permanent nursing work in the UK – Due to the working restrictions of Health and Care Worker visa sponsorships, you may only work as an agency nurse for a maximum of 20 hours per week for the duration of your NHS contract.
  • Meet an agency’s compliance standards - These include rigorous and extensive healthcare assessments (including relevant immunisations), Criminal Records Bureau, Right to Work and reference checks.

When is the best time to register for agency work?

The best time to begin registering with a nursing recruitment agency in the UK is usually around three to four months after starting your new permanent role in the UK. This time frame usually means that you are more settled into your new UK life and have passed your OSCE exam.

It also means you are giving yourself and the nursing recruitment agency plenty of time to take you through the registration process – which varies in length from agency to agency – in order that you may start your first agency shift after the six month Health and Care Worker visa restriction.

Why register with Medacs Healthcare for agency nursing?

Did you know that Medacs Healthcare is also a leading nursing recruitment agency in the UK? We offer a range of benefits to our agency nurses including:

  • First sight of NHS shifts – as a preferred supplier to multiple NHS trusts across the UK, you’ll see shifts before they reach other agencies
  • Next-day pay – submit your timesheet by 3pm and get paid the following day
  • Joining bonus – earn money simply by signing up with us (terms and conditions apply)
  • Free training – working with us entitles you to free mandatory training
  • Revalidation support – receive the help you need when it’s time to revalidate
  • Personal service – feel like part of the Medacs Healthcare family with your own dedicated consultant and 24/7 support

Interested in learning more?

Are you an overseas nurse who has been in the UK for a while and looking to do agency work? Do you think you would make a good agency nurse? Would you like to learn more about agency nursing or begin registering with Medacs Healthcare for agency work?

If you answered yes to any of these questions browse and apply to one of our latest nursing opportunities.