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Revealed: The average locum pharmacist pay rate in 2023

The locum pay rate bubble has finally burst after six years of continual increases, data from the 2023 annual C+D Salary Survey has revealed. 

Last year, C+D revealed that locums based in Great Britain earned £33.30 on average per hour in 2022, the highest rate recorded since C+D launched its annual Salary Survey in 2008.

But data gathered in C+D’s Salary Survey between October 27 last year and January 8 indicated that the average locum pharmacist rate dropped last year for the first time since 2016.

Locums across Great Britain were on average paid £31.67 per hour in 2023 compared to the 2022 rate of £33.30, according to a total of 206 responses from locum pharmacists.

C+D analysis found that in 2023, the average rate dropped by £1.63 (5%), compared to 2022.

But the new average rate is still the second highest recorded by C+D, the lowest average locum rate being just £20.50 per hour in 2016, according to Salary Survey data. 



C+D also asked locum pharmacists what they believed their average hourly rate should amount to.

Results were mixed, with 19% of the 206 respondents saying that £35 per hour was correct, while 24% thought £40 was the right fee.

Some went further, with 14% telling C+D that they ought to be paid £45 and 6% saying more than £50.


Almost half of respondents received lower pay


Unlike previous years, almost half (49%) of 206 locum pharmacist respondents said their salary had decreased in the last 12 months. 

Some 34% said that their rate had stayed the same, while a minority of 17% said their salary had increased in the year.

Of those whose rate had decreased, 98% said it had gone down by more than £1 an hour. 

And of the locums whose rate increased in 2023, half (50%) said their pay had risen by more than £3 an hour, 22% said it had risen by £2 an hour and 19% said it had risen by a £1 an hour.

Of the respondents who had seen a pay increase, two thirds (66%) said they had negotiated the raise, while one third (33%) said that their employer increased the rate voluntarily. 


Just under 2%“more than satisfied”


Of the 206 locums who took part in the survey, half (50%) said that they were dissatisfied with their pay rate. 

This is up 26 percentage points from last year’s data, when just 24% of respondents said they were dissatisfied with their pay. 

Meanwhile, the number of locums who were “more than satisfied” with their pay plummeted from 6% in 2022 to 1.5% in 2023. 

And while 17% said they were “very satisfied” last year, just 7% told C+D they felt that way this year. 


Who’s to blame?


When asked who was to blame for disappointing rates, dissatisfied locums had mixed feelings. 

Some 37% blamed their employer, with one respondent saying the issue was “larger multiples pushing down rates” so that locums refuse to work for them and “then not opening stores [and] blaming pharmacist shortages”.

A quarter (25%) said that the government was to blame, while 17% said pharmacy negotiators were at fault. 

Some four respondents stressed that they had issues with all of the above - their employer, the government and the negotiator - while one said that “both employers and other pharmacists that accept these lower rates” were to blame.

Another simply said that “the industry is rotten”.

However, one respondent said that their rate dissatisfaction was due to “feeling loyalty to [their] current place of work” and not negotiating a raise. 

The C+D Salary Survey 2023 ran between October 27 2023 and January 8 2024 and was completed by a total of 1,261 pharmacists and pharmacy staff. C+D did not have enough locum data from Northern Ireland for it to be statistically relevant, so data from the country is not included.

See all the coverage so far on the C+D Salary Survey hub.

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