Research by Locate a Locum shows around 40 percent of locums earn more than £40 per hour

Average UK pay rates for locum pharmacists grew by almost a fifth to almost £39 an hour in the last year, reflecting continued rising demand for flexible, trained professionals among thousands of community pharmacies.

According to a detailed rates analysis compiled by award-winning online shift booking platform Locate a Locum, which connects locum pharmacists with pharmacies right across the country, the UK’s average locum rate rose by 19 percent to £38.74 per hour in the 12 months ending 31 March compared with the previous year.

Though wide regional variations persist – average locum pharmacy rates in Wales are up almost 50 percent on the year to £42.91 per hour compared with £28.11 per hour in Northern Ireland – the report underlined an increasing reliance on community pharmacies in a relatively turbulent, challenging market in all regions. The average locum rate in Scotland is the highest of all UK regions at £46.03 per hour.

Of the 160,000 shifts analysed, the research showed that around 40 percent of all locums earned between £40 and £50 per hour – around eight percent received more than £50 per hour.

The regional variations underline market complexities, local challenges and widespread NHS pressures, according to Locate a Locum CEO Jonathon Clarke.

“Community pharmacies continue to experience an unsettled period, with increased prescribing pressures as they continue to support the NHS services – which is against a backdrop of reduced funding, drug shortages and store closures,” Jonathon said.

These market forces are increasing the reliance on locums to deliver services and ensure that pharmacies remain operational.”

Pressures on NHS services are well-documented, with years of underinvestment, severe staffing shortages and high demand putting additional demands on local community pharmacists. The fall in the number of full-time GPs, with more leaving the profession than entering it, is also forcing more people to rely on the advice and expertise of their local phamacists.

Moreover, ongoing corporate restructuring – as well as planned closures in some areas, combined with new powers planned in England enabling pharmacists to take on routine tests previously administered by GPs, are also seen to be adding to the pressures being faced in the sector.

Research published earlier this year by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) revealed 76% of 2,000 pharmacy team members surveyed said their pharmacies were experiencing staff shortages and that worryingly, some 19% of pharmacy owners also said their pharmacy had been forced to close temporarily because of such shortages, rising costs and increased workloads.

Locate a Locum does not set rates – the platform assists in recording the rate agreed directly between the pharmacy and the locum at the time which reflects the prevailing market conditions and immediate market demand.

The decision on locum rates is ultimately that of the locum and the pharmacy. To improve shift fill rates for pharmacies, we have seen the impact of opening locum negotiation, which in turn reduces the need for emergency cover,” Jonathon said. “Another consideration is to look at your locums’ skill base and plan your rota so that you can utilise these skills to deliver value-added services.”

For locums, the Locate a Locum platform provides assurance that the rate set accurately reflects local demand. Specific skills, experience and accreditations demanded are also seen as factors which enable some locums to achieve higher rates.

Staffing and locum costs are becoming more significant on the balance sheet and locum management is becoming pivotal to ensuring operational success and greater efficiencies.

Locum a Locum’s award-winning management platform helps locum pharmacy workers book flexible shifts in pharmacies across the UK in less than one minute, supporting thousands of businesses and building professional careers.