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Locum demand and rates ‘issue’ not isolated to pharmacy, says Maria Caulfield

Pharmacy is not the only sector dealing with increasing demand for locums and rising hourly rates – with pressures being felt across primary care, the pharmacy minister has told C+D.

It comes after written evidence provided by the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) to the Health and Social Care Select Commitee revealed that “rising locum rates may lead to locums deciding not take as many shifts as they would have otherwise done”.

Responding to the committee’s ongoing inquiry into workforce recruitment, training and retention in health and social care, the CCA added that “contractors are also reporting significant increases in locum hourly pay rates”.

 

Read more: ‘The unpalatable message for pharmacy owners on locum bookings and temporary closures’

 

But pharmacy minister Maria Caulfield stressed that "this is also an issue for GPs”.

Issues across primary care include “locum prices and if you can get a locum” at all, Ms Caulfield told C+D in an exclusive interview on Tuesday (June 21).

“It's not just the cost, they’re pretty sought after,” she said.

 

“Community pharmacists take on an awful lot of work”

 

In its submission, the CCA also flagged that high vacancy rates and staff absences "are making it more and more difficult to ensure there is a pharmacist on site at short notice”.

 

Read more: Maria Caulfield: Pharmacy reform update to come in matter of weeks

 

Last year, pharmacists were added to the government’s shortage occupation list, a decision that was welcomed by some employers and questioned by some locums and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association.

Ms Caulfield reassured that the issues around the pharmacy workforce forms part of the government’s funding negotiations with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC).

“Obviously, PSNC [is] making strong arguments about [pharmacists] taking on additional roles, and how we fund that,” she told C+D.

 

Read the full interview with pharmacy minister Maria Caulfield here.

Find out what the average locum pay rate in 2021 was here and compare how hourly rates vary across Great Britain here

 

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