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Branch managers blame recruitment issues on low pay offers, data reveals

Almost three-quarters of community pharmacist branch managers have struggled to recruit pharmacists or pharmacy staff in 2021, according to data from the C+D Salary Survey.

Some 74% of the 222 branch managers who responded to a question in the survey – which ran from November 26 to December 31 – on whether they had experienced issues with recruiting pharmacists or other staff in 2021 answered affirmatively.

Meanwhile, a smaller percentage (61%) said they found it difficult to retain pharmacists or pharmacy staff in the 12 months leading up to the survey.

Three in 10 (31%) of the 118 branch managers who answered a question on their recruitment difficulties cited “pay”, “salaries”, or “wages” as contributing factors.

One respondent wrote that “wages [are] not able to mirror that of a locum”, while another added that “pharmacists don’t want to work in this field anymore, [as] low salary wages do not attract new applicants”.

Another respondent said: “Pay is a big factor in not being able to recruit. Most pharmacists will locum due to getting a better rate of pay”.

Meanwhile, one branch manager argued that community pharmacy pay levels are not competitive when compared to working at Aldi “for the amount of responsibility that people take on”.

Another respondent said: “Nobody wants to work in a pharmacy that pays less than a supermarket but expects a lot more”.


Lack of trained staff a hindrance


Some respondents mentioned that it was difficult to find adequately trained staff.

One respondent said they had “two vacancies without any trained applicants applying”. Another said they had “not managed to recruit qualified staff, only trainees, putting lots of strain on branches”.

Another respondent commented: “No one [is] applying for advertised positions. When we finally do get an applicant, they are in no way trained or suitable. Given the environment and atmosphere, there is no time to train new staff”.


Locum rates also a factor


Just under two thirds (64%) of 25 pharmacy contractor respondents said they had faced challenges both on recruiting and retaining pharmacists and pharmacy staff in 2021.

One contractor cited difficulties in securing locums “at a reasonable price” as the reason behind their recruitment issues, while others mentioned former colleagues’ decision to leave their business to better pay and working conditions being offered to them elsewhere.

Meanwhile, one branch manager said that their “owners won’t pay for locums so we can’t have time off”.

Another branch manager said their “company is not willing to pay decent locum rates and good pharmacists are at vaccination hubs or GP surgeries”, while another added that they found it difficult to find a locum “without extortionate rates”.


Recruitment issues by role


The C+D findings come as Health Education England (HEE) published its Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey 2021 report last week (January 20), in which it revealed that while the number of pharmacists working in community pharmacy in England has increased since 2017, their roles were among the most difficult to fill.

Here are other roles that pharmacies struggled to fill in 2021, according to the HEE data:



The C+D Salary Survey 2021 ran between November 26 and December 31 and was completed by a total of 1,295 pharmacists and pharmacy staff.

What do you make of the C+D Salary Survey 2021 results so far? Catch up on the coverage and share your experiences on the C+D Community

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