Locum rates rise by a fifth to nearly £39 UK average, booking agency reveals
The average UK pay rates for locum pharmacists rose by 19% to almost £39 per hour in the twelve months ending March 31 compared to the previous year, according to a detailed rates analysis by Locate a Locum.
The UK average rate for a locum pharmacist shift increased by £6.06 (19%) from £32.68 in 2021/22 to £38.74 in 2022/23, the shift booking platform provider revealed yesterday (June 28).
This reflects the “continued rising demand for flexible, trained professionals among thousands of community pharmacies”, it said.
Locate a Locum analysed 160,000 shifts on its platform between April 1 2022 and March 31 2023, comparing this with rates recorded in the same period the previous year.
The analysis showed that 40% of all locums earned between £40 and £50 per hour and 8% received more than £50 per hour.
“Wide regional variations”
The research compiled by Locate a Locum showed that rates continue to vary according to regions, with average locum rates in Scotland the highest of all UK regions.
The average locum rate in Scotland was £46.03 per hour in 2022/23 compared to the previous year when the rate was £44.86 per hour – an increase of £1.17 (3%) – it showed.
Average rates in Wales increased by almost half (49%) year on year – rocketing by £14.19 from £28.72 per hour in 2021/22 to £42.91 per hour the following year, it found.
And Northern Ireland saw an increase of 28% in hourly locum rates, with the average increasing £6.16 from £21.95 to £28.11, it said.
Meanwhile in England, the average rate was £32.88 in 2021/22 compared to £37.58 in 2022/23 – an increase of £4.70 (14%), it added.
The report found that there is an “increasing reliance on community pharmacies in a relatively turbulent, challenging market in all regions.”
The “wide regional variations” reflect “market complexities, local challenges and widespread NHS pressures”, it said.
“Increasing reliance on locums”
“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,” Locate a Locum CEO Jonathon Clarke said.
“These market forces are increasing the reliance on locums to deliver services and ensure that pharmacies remain operational,” he added.
The “well-documented” pressures on NHS services, “years of underinvestment, severe staffing shortages and high demand” all contribute to putting additional demands on community pharmacists, Locate a Locum said.
Further, the drop in 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 pharmacists, it added.
And it said that “ongoing corporate restructuring” and “planned closures in some areas”, along with the new powers planned in England to enable pharmacists to take on routine tests previously administered by GPs, are also adding to “growing workloads and pressures” in the sector.
Platform “does not set rates”
Locate a Locum stressed that it “does not set rates” but instead “assists in recording the rate agreed directly between the pharmacy and the locum at the time that reflects the prevailing market conditions and immediate market demand”.
“The decision on locum rates is ultimately that of the locum and the pharmacy,” Mr Clarke said.
“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,” he added.
This comes as data gathered in C+D’s Salary Survey between October 25 last year and January 20 indicated that the average locum pharmacist rate continued to rise steeply throughout last year to £33.30 per hour, surpassing the 2021 record.