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Revealed: Average UK hourly locum rate stagnates at £38

The average hourly pay rate for locum pharmacists in the UK has slightly dropped to £38.44 by this summer from £38.74 in the year ending in March, according to analysis by Locate a Locum.

Between June 2022 and July this year, the UK average hourly rate for a locum pharmacist was £38.44, analysis of 160,000 locum pharmacy shifts by shift booking platform provider Locate a Locum has revealed.

The data, which was published today (September 5) by business property adviser Christie & Co in its annual pharmacy market review, shows that locum rates have remained fairly stable since the year ending in March when average locum pay was £38.74 per hour – dropping just 30p.

But while “respite in locum costs was aired by some contractors in the first half of 2023, workforce pressures continue to drive locum rate increases across three of the four UK country regions”, the report said.

Breaking down the data geographically, analysis shows that Scotland is the only country in the UK to face a reduction in average locum rates – down 2.9% from £48.86 in June 2022 to £45.36 in July 2023, it added said.

Meanwhile, Locate a Locum data showed that on average, rates in Wales rates increased 7.6% to £42.60, rates in England rose by 0.3% to £37.14 and rates in Northern Ireland rose by a staggering 17.5% to £28.66 over the same period.


“Winners and losers”


Reflecting on variation in pay between areas in the UK, Christie & Co emphasised that locum rates saw some “winners and losers”.

The data showed that in the year ending July of this year, locums in Cornwall were paid the most in England at an average of £48.81.  

Locums in Dumfries earned the most in Scotland, averaging £51.80, while Swansea locums earned the most out of locums in Wales, at £45.18.

The highest rate in Northern Ireland could be found in Derry/Londonderry, where pay averaged £29.63.

Meanwhile, Leicester offered the worst rates for locums in England at £27.68. Glaswegian locums were paid £41.21, the least in Scotland, while Welsh locums were offered the least pay in Cardiff at £42.59.

Locums in Belfast were paid £27.38, the least in both Northern Ireland and the UK.


“Increasingly relying on locums”


Locate a Locum chief executive Jonathon Clarke said that changing locum pay reflected “market forces” that are “increasingly relying on locums to deliver services and ensure that pharmacies remain fully operational”.

He highlighted that recently, the booking agency has “witnessed an increase in negotiations between pharmacies and locum pharmacists, in a bid to improve shift fill rates”, which in turn reduces “the need for emergency cover”.

And Christie & Co stressed that the pharmacy sector is facing an “employment crisis”, with employment issues “one of the most pressing cost issues” for UK pharmacies.

This comes after 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.


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