References are needed to validate your employment history, and are used to help secure you work. They include information about the dates you worked, your responsibilities and competence.
How many references do I need?
Most locum agencies will ask for:
- at least two references from previous Consultants you've worked with...
- ...which cover the last three years of employment (or two years if you're an F2!)...
- ...and should ideally cover the specialty you want to locum in
Which Consultants do I pick from my Foundation Training?
This will typically be your Educational Supervisor, plus a Consultant from the rotation in the specialty or specialties in which you want to locum. Have a reference in the relevant specialty will be helpful in making your application stand out. You may also be asked for a reference from your most recent rotation.
I have done some locum work recently, do I need a reference to cover this?
If you have done regular locum work outside of your main Trust, you may need a reference to cover this period. This will depend on how much work you've done there and how regularly. The locum agency will exercise their judgment as to whether this is necessary or not.
Can it be any Consultant that I have worked with be my referee?
It can be any of the Consultants in the department, as long as you worked with them (and they are likely to say nice things about you!). You might want to tactically choose those with better admin or who don't get asked for references by everyone else!
👉 Find any previous references
If you already have references on file from previous locum or bank work, and these are in an official format, the locum agency may be able to use these. They can contact the relevant referee to confirm it is authentic.
👉 Agree suitable referees with locum agency
They will let you know which of your jobs / rotations require references.
👉 Contact referees to give them a heads-up
Sending them a friendly, grateful and grovelling message explaining that a locum agency or two are going to ask them for references will go a long way to helping you get them quickly.
A quick phone call would be helpful too if you have a good relationship with them and you think it's appropriate.
👉 Share referee details with agency
The agency will just need the details of the Consultant and the work to which it relates. They will then contact them with a reference to complete and return.
👉 Chase up if you don't hear back
Waiting for a response from referees is the most common reason that doctors get delayed in starting work. You should feel empowered to politely chase them up for a response if you haven't heard back within a week or two. Having already asked their permission makes this much easier.
Concerns and Challenges
Does each locum agency need to contact my referees separately?
References can’t generally be re-used, as NHS rules state that each locum agency needs to individually receive references directly from the Consultant.
This is one of the biggest bug bears for doctors in the compliance process.
Will they be annoyed if I ask them?
It’s easy to feel like you are bugging them… especially if you are using them for training applications too! But they understand that it's a necessary evil of you getting locum work and will do what they need to do to help.
If you've politely contacted them before, and have a bit of a relationship with them, it will be fine.