Since my recent posts about working in the UK, I've been getting lots of questions. Here are some Frequently Asked Questions, with some answers. Please feel free to ask more by commenting at the bottom.

How did you ask your team leader for a professional reference for the HCPC Application despite your move was months (more than six!) ahead?

I found the task of asking my team leader for a reference quite daunting. I didn’t want them to worry about me leaving soon, when I didn’t have any firm plans.

Luckily, we have a good relationship, so that helped. I stayed late, after everyone else had left for the day, so we could speak privately. I said something along the lines of "Hi Liz, you know how I've been wanting to do some travelling. Well, I've decided to start the process of registering as an OT in the UK, just to open some options. We don't have any firm plans for moving yet." She was a little surprised but happy to help. Then I briefly explained the application process and showed her the professional reference form. She was happy to fill it in for me, so I left it with her for a few days. I also asked her not to tell anyone else about it, because it was all still a long way off.

Should I look for and possibly secure a job whilst still working in Australia or arrive in the UK and begin looking then? There are pros and cons of each. What did you do in your move? And how did it go for you?

When to apply depends on what kind of job you will be applying for. If you are planning to travel a lot, locum roles are best. Employers generally want locums to start as soon as possible (usually within a week or two), so I would advise waiting until you get over here.

I accepted a locum role about a week before arriving in London. I only stayed in the job 4 weeks because it was so far from where we were staying and it was really hard to juggle work with basic things like setting up a bank account, getting a local phone number etc. It would have been much easier if I had 2-4 weeks to settle in and find my way around before starting work.

After that 4-week role, I had a break of about 4 weeks while I waited for a more suitable role to be offered by one of my agencies.

If you are planning to apply for a permanent role or fixed contract directly with NHS, I would suggest applying about 2-3 months before you plan to travel. Their HR process is incredibly long!

The agencies I've been in touch with (Sugarman, Mediplacements, Maxima etc) have only mentioned Locums roles. What is the difference between all these agencies- do they all have the same jobs available or are they different jobs?

The health system here in the UK is split into NHS Trusts. Each trust has its own governance. A trust is sort of equivalent to an Australian local council area. There are normally one to three main hospitals within each trust, plus community services. Each trust might have "preferred suppliers" for various things, including temporary staff. If an agency is the preferred supplier, they will be told about the job first. If they can't fill it, it will be opened to other agencies. I haven't found a way to find out which agencies are the preferred suppliers for each trust. If the agency is "top tier" they are more likely to hear about jobs early. Sugarman is a top tier agency. I'm not sure about the other two, but they both have good reputations.

Recruitment agencies don’t have a very good reputation in Australia. Can you trust them in the UK?

Keep in mind that the agency's main goal is to have you working. Not to make you happy. You are their product, not their customer. They get paid according to how many hours you work. Sometimes that means they will offer you jobs that you won't actually like, but they can make it sound like what you've asked for. Don't be afraid to ask lots of questions and to turn jobs down. There is plenty of work.

That said, a good agency will also try to keep you happy by trying to understand exactly what type of role you're looking for, and only will contact you about suitable roles.

Are you primarily working with paediatrics or adults? I'm more of a paed therapist, however I know with NHS it’s a bit of everything (as agencies have told me), did you find this the case?

Just like in Australia, there are different specialties. I've found job roles in the UK tend to be more specialised than in Australia. I have just been appointed to a permanent part time NHS role as a wheelchair therapist. I will only be prescribing wheelchairs. I have worked in paediatrics and with adults in UK and Australia. My other current role (part time) is working with adults with physical disabilities in the community, working through my agency with the Local Authority (the local council). I've always been a community therapist.

Did I answer your question? If not, please ask below, or see my other posts.