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Locum or permanent? A guide for nurses

Nursing jobs come in two distinct types: locum and permanent. But which is best? In fact, there are good reasons for choosing one or the other, depending on your circumstances and aspirations. So, we've put together a simple guide to the pros on either side.

Let's start with the locum option. Whether you're a newly qualified nurse or an experienced practitioner, there are several advantages to locum or agency nursing jobs.


This is the obvious number one advantage of going for locum nursing posts rather than a permanent position. In most cases, you get to choose where you work, the type of work you do and what hours you put in. It gives you time to take care of other commitments, such as raising a family or looking after an elderly relative. There's also less impact on your career if you take a break from work for a while.

Skills development

Being a locum nurse may help you enhance your professional development because you can take on specialist placements or nursing jobs which focus on particular skills. This will be good for your CV and career progression.

Rates of pay

While pay rates can vary depending on where you work and when, being a locum nurse will usually earn you a higher hourly rate than you would get in a permanent nursing job. Of course, you have to take in to account that you may not be working as much, and you may lose out when it comes to pension and sickness benefits, as well as holiday entitlement. But it means you can probably afford to work those reduced hours you've been dreaming of without putting yourself under financial pressure.

Now let's look at permanent nursing jobs. There are certainly some important plus points if you choose to go for 'employed' rather than 'agency' status.

Guaranteed hours

In a permanent nursing position, you'll be contracted to work a minimum number of hours each week. It's not just about having job security and peace of mind. It also makes getting a mortgage or loan more straightforward.

A sense of belonging

You'll feel part of a team in a familiar environment. You won't be regularly facing the challenge of getting to know new people, systems, processes and protocols.


Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is important for your career and necessary for your three-yearly Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) revalidation. As a permanent nurse you're more likely to have access to CPD training and advancement opportunities funded by your employer.

Career progression

As a permanent employee, you'll be well placed to apply for internal nursing job opportunities and progress your career in a familiar organisation and setting.

Whether you are looking for a locum or permanent nursing job role, Sanctuary are uniquely positioned to help you at every step of the way. Why not take a look at the latest nursing jobs available, or for more information about how we can support your career, please phone and speak with one of our highly trained consultants.
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