The average hourly rate of 275 locum pharmacists who completed this year's Salary Survey – which ran throughout October 2017 – was £20.84, an increase of 34p-per-hour on the average for 2015.
The slight increase in average national rates follows a nose dive over the past decade – from a high of £24-per-hour in 2007, to a low of £20.50 in 2015 (see graph below).
The biggest rate increase – of £2.90 – was seen in Northern Ireland. Despite this, the country still trailed behind the rest of the UK, with locums paid just £16.57-per-hour on average, compared with £19.79 in the next lowest region, London.
In contrast, the biggest drops in average rates were seen in Scotland and Wales, of 94p and £1 respectively (see map below).
Despite this, Welsh locums remained the highest paid, with an average rate of £22.50. They were followed by locum pharmacists in north-east England, who reported an average rate of £21.52-per-hour.
Dissatisfaction with rates
C+D’s Salary Survey also found that two-thirds of locums are dissatisfied with their rates. Pharmacists from London and south-west England were the least content – with over 75% of respondents from both regions dissatisfied.
Almost half (47%) of dissatisfied locums across the UK blamed their employer for their unsatisfactory rates. A quarter believed their rates are the result of insufficient pharmacy funding from the Department of Health (DH), with one locum claiming the DH in England “has no vision of community pharmacy”.
Another respondent suggested universities “start courses for their financial gain only, regardless of need or quality” – creating a surplus of pharmacists which in turn lowers locum rates. Meanwhile, several respondents placed blame on “other locums accepting lower rates”.
You can read C+D clinical editor Kristoffer Stewart's thoughts on why locum rates rose in 2017 here.
See the full regional breakdown of average hourly locum pay rates in C+D’s interactive map below: