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4 troubleshooting tips for locums

Recruitment expert Miraj Patel shares his suggestions for survival as a self-employed pharmacist

The results of each year’s C+D Salary Survey seem to bring with them new and worrying reports of plummeting locum rates. With 2015 delivering a seven-year low to an average rate of just £20.85 an hour, it’s easy to feel disheartened.

So what can locums do? Miraj Patel, CEO of My Locum Choice – which markets itself as a locum solution – offers his tips for tackling common problems facing locums today, from negotiating rates to making a lasting impression on staff.

1 Negotiate your pay

Fighting for higher pay can be difficult, but it’s important to agree on a fair wage, Mr Patel stresses. His preferred strategy is to “barter a little bit and stand your ground and show what you have to offer”. He recommends giving examples of any extra training you have received – such as carrying out flu vaccinations – to show employers that they’ll be getting their money’s worth. Other factors to consider in the negotiation process include high travel expenses, which you should try to claim, and emergency shifts, which should be paid at a higher rate, Mr Patel says.

2 Adapt to your surroundings

Assuming the position of responsible pharmacist can be awkward when you’re unfamiliar with the pharmacy team, so Mr Patel recommends following their lead. “Where possible, always adapt to the way that they work,” Mr Patel suggests. Allowing staff to work in the way they are used to – assuming this is safe – can minimise tensions. “Why change something if it’s doing well?” he points out.

3 Show an interest

Making the extra effort with staff creates a friendlier work environment. “The staff are your best friends,” Mr Patel stresses. Don’t underestimate how big an impact the smallest of gestures can have. Phoning to introduce yourself before you arrive, getting to know the individual roles of staff and even offering to bring back some snacks when you go out to buy lunch are a few small things you could do to let staff know you’re taking an interest, he suggests.

4 Branch out

It can be tempting to only work for the companies you are familiar with, but Mr Patel recommends getting as much experience as you can in different environments. “Work anywhere where you think it’s going to benefit your development,” he says. The more experience you can get working with both multiple and independent businesses, the more attractive you will make yourself to employers.

How easy have you found it to secure locum work over the past 12 months? Tell us in the C+D Salary Survey 2016


What are your tips for securing work as a locum?

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James Mac, Community pharmacist

Make sure you join the PDA. In the event something goes wrong they will help you - the RPS, GPHC or whatnot won't be in your corner ever, so it makes sense to join an employee union. All pharmacists who have never been a locum think locums are [email protected] Especially if they are working for a big multiple. Just get through the day and don't sweat the small stuff. Save your receipts for everything - that includes what you buy for lunch. Every penny counts at tax time. Don't bother paying an accountant, just grit your teeth and self-assess. There's nothing worse than having too few bookings. Oh wait, there is - having too many,

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Well it's a fairly narrow dull spectrum. My advice get a clinical diploma and a prescribing certificate too. Work in GPs and chemists.....diversify is the key!

Calum Nelson, Locum pharmacist

5. Make sure you have PDA indemnity insurance and are a union member. 6. Make sure you have breakdown cover, jump leads and a spare tire, jack and wheel brace; there's nothing worse than being broken down in the middle of nowhere 20 miles from your house at 9pm in December and not having a clue how you'll get home. 7. Make sure there's pens in your bag. I've seriously been to pharmacies with less pens than staff.

Edward H Rowan, Locum pharmacist

fewer pens

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

....and I've been to pharmacies with less staff than pens.....

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

And still some idiot area manager bangs on about MURs !

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Usually a Non-pharmacist area manager, who used to work for a non-pharmacy high street chain and knows nothing about the NHS, healthcare or community pharmacy! How did we get to this state?!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Be a locum dispenser.

Vanessa Hoyle, Community pharmacist

Seems like common sense to me!

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

In an ideal world--all is rosy in the garden?? Much as I would like to agree--this is the real world --not cloud cuckoo land. Negotiate pay?--not when someone will work for peanuts---monkeys?pay?

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Very amusing. A troubleshooter for an industry dying on its feet at best. All that hassle for how much?? Drive a train or a bus for more. In fact work at Lidl or Aldi for more and without the privilege of a five figure debt.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

I was banging my head on a wall after reading this.

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