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GPhC must tackle contractors withholding locum pay, PDA urges

People The PDA Union has taken on almost 400 cases of employers refusing to pay locums in the past year and John Murphy (pictured) is calling for the GPhC's support in the form of regulatory action to eliminate the problem

The PDA Union has called on the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) to clamp down on employers who regularly fail to pay locum pharmacists.


The PDA Union took on almost 400 cases of employers refusing to pay locums for their services over the past year, it said. This included at least 15 companies that repeatedly put themselves into liquidation to avoid payment and employers that withheld sums of up to £20,000.


"We believe that regulatory action is appropriate to stamp out this behaviour" John Murphy, PDA Union

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The union called on the GPhC to take action against the "unacceptable and unprofessional practice" of hiring locums without any intention of paying them. "We believe that regulatory action is appropriate to stamp out this behaviour and will be asking the GPhC how best to tackle this issue," said PDA Union general secretary John Murphy.


The GPhC said it would await further information from the PDA before responding to the comments.


Mr Murphy added that, in some instances, locum agencies were "fuelling the situation". "Locum agencies have got the biggest responsibility of anyone in this because they're crafting the conditions that locums work in," he argued. "Because they're backed by contractors, they tend to keep their heads down and, to a large extent, they're part of the problem."


But Shaun Hockey, managing director of locum recruitment agency PL-UK, said "contractors alone" were responsible for working conditions.


"We would never place a locum in conditions that we felt were unsafe or where we thought they might not be paid," he told C+D.


Founder of the Locum Voice forum Lindsey Gilpin said she was aware of some employers failing to pay locums and called on locum agencies to "keep a very careful eye" on any employers they suspected of the practice.


"I wouldn't blame [locum agencies] but I think now that the subject has been raised, it's time for them to be a little bit more circumspect and careful," she told C+D.


At the start of the year, the PDA warned that locums were likely to face a tough year as employers saw them as "low-hanging fruit" for cutting costs.




What else could be done to protect locums?

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9 Comments

Community Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Whats the difference between the gphc and a chocolate teapot. One serves some benefit. The other is the gphc. Utter waste of space. Priorities in the wrong place. If they regulated properly boots and the big multiples would have been held responsible for DANGEROUS staffing and pressure from senior management for murs and nms. Oh sorry "quality conversations ". Even a panorama episode wasnt enough for the gphc to ask boots "what the hell are you playing at" . But its much easier to strike of a pharmacist. Shame. Please please gphc. Its not too late to change your ways.

Snowfire 42, Locum pharmacist

Locums should be paid at the end of the day,if not do not turn up the next day.This should be the norm.When booking demand this condition otherwise do not take the booking,soon this gets sorted out.Rogue proprietors soon get sorted out

Tom Jerry, Community pharmacist

"Sorry Mr GPhC, can I pay you for me fees when I get me monies??" what a carry-on....

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

I know that if I engaged a locum and they failed to fulfill their obligations, I would have no hesitation in reporting them to the GPhC for unprofessional conduct. This is just the same but reversed. I do think it might be difficult to prove intent not to pay but that should not dissuade any pharmacist from taking appropriate action. I would expect the GPhC to fully investigate and act appropriately. Also, at the very least, I would be surprised if there wasn't a quick text round fellow locums to tell them that xxxx pharmacy has witheld payment. After all, pharmacy is a very small world.

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

Refusing to pay a locum for no other reason than greed is a matter of grave dishonesty. It is fraudulent behaviour, pure and simple. Will the GPhC intervene to protect the integrity of the profession in face of such dishonesty? Never!

And therefore the GPhC is not fit for purpose.Though they will intervene at the behest of a multiple to suspend an employee pharmacist in order to protect the integrity of a patient survey.

It truly does beggar belief. They are as far removed from reality and the individual professional as possible.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Oh you can be sure a diligent pharmacist with evidence of non payments after initially accepting a booking might be reported for 'reneging' on the contract. Try and argue the reverse...

Non payment is of no interest to GPhC . Non important surveys carry more weight.

It has happened to me and many others and it is very often deliberate. It is bad enough to hear of pharmacists struggling (no one had sufficient interest in university numbers until far too late in the day) for work and then being given the run around for services rendered.

Never thought this state of affairs day could come in Pharmacy when I registered.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I think this a terrible state of affairs and this is the sort of work PDA does well and hope that it succeeds in sorting it out for unpaid locums. As Daffy Duck used to say " It's dispicable!!"

Din Patel, Manager

If the GPhC had any guts they would strike of any superintendent that failed to pay a locum.
But, I guess the GPhC would do nothing at all.

Any company that was liquidated should lose their contract.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

The GPhC should most certainly investigate and bring action against the Superintendents of Pharmacies who routinely engage locums with no intention of paying for their services.

There are many Pharmacists who are struggling to find enough work to pay the bills who will take a chance in accepting bookings from Pharmacies who have a reputation as problem payers. They are unfortunately ripe for exploitation by these unscrupulous individuals.

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