Junior doctors are ditching NHS staff jobs for lucrative locum shifts – and bragging about it on TikTok, a Daily Mail investigation has found.
Medics in their 20s, fresh out of training, are leaving their posts in favour of temp work which can quadruple their health service earnings.
And they encourage former colleagues to follow their lead and abandon the NHS as they boast about it on social media.
Critics lambasted the ‘infuriating’ waste of taxpayers’ money at a time when the health service is in the grip of a workforce and budget crisis.
Medics in their 20s, fresh out of training, are leaving their posts in favour of temp work which can quadruple their health service earnings (pictured: A TikTok video posted by @phabphamasis)
And they encourage former colleagues to follow their lead and abandon the NHS as they boast about it on social media. (pictured: TikTok poster Jamie Livingstone)
The Mail recently revealed that locum agencies rake in eye-watering amounts of money from the NHS by plugging 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.
Depending on the outcome of a national vote, junior doctor members of the British Medical Association could be next on the picket line.
Locum work is becoming so popular that many young medics have become TikTok influencers – dubbed ‘medfluencers’ – telling followers how they can earn more money, work less, and go travelling by swapping an NHS contract for agency work.
Brazen videos show doctors flashing £17,000-a-month pay cheques for locum work – a significant uplift on the £2,600-a-month 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’.
While locum doctors have long been common in the health service, it was traditionally an option for older, more experienced medics to fill rota gaps (pictured: Influencer @medwithmo’s £17,000 pay slip)
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.’
While locum doctors have long been common in the health service, it was traditionally an option for older, more experienced medics to fill rota gaps.
But as the NHS grapples with a growing staffing crisis, young medics have cottoned on to the opportunity.
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.
Contracted to work 48 hours a week, this breaks down to between £11.77 and £13.63 an hour. Meanwhile, locum agencies offer anything between £25 and £60 an hour.
A final-year medical student, who did not want to be named, said he was ‘100 per cent going to locum after training’.
‘First of all, the money rates are a lot better but that’s not the main reason,’ he said.
‘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.’
But as the NHS grapples with a growing staffing crisis, young medics have cottoned on to the opportunity. 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 (pictured: Influencer Yaa Oheema)
Last night, MPs and think-tanks called for the lucrative loophole to be scrutinised so young doctors offer better value for money for the taxpayer.
Labour health spokesman Wes Streeting said: ‘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 said: ‘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.’
Alex Baylis, of The King’s Fund think-tank, said: ‘Training doctors is incredibly expensive and the NHS needs to have a pipeline of staff for the coming decades and keep them there for the whole of the career to make use of that investment.’
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.’