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Locum demand will soar as more pharmacies offer COVID vax, agency says

Demand for locums – and in turn their rates – will surge in 2021 as more pharmacy-led sites go live with the COVID-19 vaccination services, Locate a Locum has predicted.

Locum pharmacists will be in greater demand this year as new vaccination centres open and they are called to “either administer the vaccine or to backfill shifts of regular pharmacists”, a trend that the agency is already seeing at the beginning of 2021, the locum agency said.

Locate a Locum CEO Jonny Clarke told C+D earlier this week (February 10) that that the online booking platform has seen a 50% increase in posted shifts “in early 2021”, compared to the same period last year.

“We only have anecdotal evidence that the demand increase is due to vaccination centres – more often than not, the locums are being recruited to backfill for permanent pharmacists administering vaccines. We will be doing further research into this in the coming weeks,” Mr Clarke added.

Factors impacting locum rates

In an update on its website last month, the company pointed to the factors that it believes will cause locum rates to surge this year. These are: supply and demand, the opening of vaccination centres, demand during the holiday season, and shift timings.

The scale of the vaccination programme – which aims to inoculate all adults in the UK by the autumn – will inevitably mean that some healthcare professionals will burn out, “resulting in more demand [for locums] and a surge in locum rates”, the agency added.

Locate a Locum also predicts that many permanent pharmacy team members “will be unable to take annual leave until towards the end of the year” due to their involvement in the vaccine rollout, which will also trigger a higher demand for locums.

Three locum agencies told C+D last year that demand for locum pharmacists had dropped in the spring and summer months, which are typically the months when pharmacy staff are more likely to take their annual leave.

The C+D Salary Survey 2020 results showed that as many as two in five locum pharmacists found it more difficult to find work in 2020 compared to 2019.

What do you make of this prediction?

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