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Multiples freeze 2012 locum rates

People Locum rates set to remain stagnant this year, as multiples have failed to rule out cuts and some have confirmed they will either be reducing or offering no increase on their current rates of pay.

Locum rates seem set to remain stagnant this year, as multiples have failed to rule out cuts and some have confirmed they will either be reducing or offering no increase on their current rates of pay.

   

Superdrug will be cutting its hourly pay nearly 10 per cent, taking weekly rates from £23 per hour to £21. Saturday rates will fall from £26 to £24. The multiple said the changes were because of a "significant" decrease in demand for locums after filling the majority of its pharmacy manager vacancies.

Other multiples were tight-lipped about their exact rates but did not rule out cuts. Boots said it would "monitor competitor developments".

The Co-operative Pharmacy said it expected its locum costs to remain static this year after cutting its rates in the north-west last summer.

"We do not anticipate that our locum costs will increase for 2012 and expect that they will be fairly stable," said Paul Wilson, operations resource planning manager for the Co-operative Pharmacy. "This is due to difficult economic times and a squeeze on pharmacy funding, combined with the fact more locums are seeking permanent roles."

And while Lloydspharmacy and Boots did not confirm their rates for 2012, they said locum pay would depend on the market. "Our locum rates are very much determined by supply and demand," a Lloydspharmacy spokesperson told C+D. "There are areas of the UK experiencing an over-supply of pharmacists, which may bring the locum pay rate down; likewise there are areas of high demand for locums where they will naturally be able to command a higher rate."

Boots confirmed it would adopt a similar strategy. "With any supply and demand, rates are based on competition and we continue to monitor competitor developments," a spokesperson said.

The news came after a C+D poll revealed 65 per cent of readers were not expecting to get a pay rise in 2012.

     


Expert comment

John Murphy, director, Pharmacists' Defence Association

"Organisations that are cutting locum rates are just being opportunistic in the current labour market. They're devaluing the role and value that pharmacists bring to the organisation, and sending out a clear message that pharmacists are an easy target for pay cuts.

Employers have to take the good times with the bad times, but I think the automatic assumption that they'll deduct people's pay is the wrong thing to do at the wrong time.

The other thing we have to look at is the number of pharmacists working all the hours God sends, as a result of the pressure to work long hours without breaks. There are enough pharmacists out there to give people a reasonable and fair work-life balance. But the amount of pressure on people to work outside their normal hours quite frankly doesn't do the organisation any favours. Pharmacists end up doing technical tasks that could be done by other staff, when they would be better employed in patient facing roles."

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