Of the 246 locum pharmacists from across the UK who responded to the question on the survey – which ran throughout October – 48% said it had become “a little” or “a lot” harder to find work over the previous 12 months.
In comparison, 44% said the difficulty level “was about the same”, while 8% said it had become easier.
London appeared to be the hardest place to secure a shift, with 59% of respondents from the capital reporting it had become more difficult between October 2016 and October 2017.
Northern Ireland was the only part in the UK where the majority of respondents told C+D it had become less of a struggle to find work. No locums in the country said it had become harder, while over 70% found it “a little” or “a lot” easier than the previous year – despite the same proportion saying they were dissatisfied with their rate.
View C+D's locum rate map below to see how the search for locum shifts has changed in each region of the UK.
Demand “still there” – in some areas
Miraj Patel, chief executive of locum agency My Locum Choice, said he “wouldn’t be surprised if people are finding it harder to get work” in some parts of the UK.
But he insisted “there is still work out there” – and added his company has just experienced its “best year”.
“We did more [business] than last year. Locums that are flexible have located outside of saturated areas...where the demand is still there.”
Thorrun Govind, a locum pharmacist in Lancashire, said the difficulty in finding work may be a “sign of the times” – with contractors “more likely to keep a regular locum...because they need that continuity of business”.
Tohidul Islam, founder of locum network The Locum Pharmacist Cooperative, said he has had “regular work” over the past 12 months – but has noticed “the amount of work...has gone down”.
Mr Islam blamed the shortage of shifts on pharmacy owners being forced to work more hours, and multiples hiring more relief pharmacists.
Twitter reacts to C+D's locum findings
C+D exclusively revealed yesterday that the average locum rate across the UK rose for the first time in 2017 – by 34p – after a decade-long drop. Here is how readers reacted on Twitter:
So the @ChemistDruggist salary survey results are in. There has been a rise is Locum rates for the first time in 10 years. This is something the pharmacist cooperative has been fighting for and after a year of hard work we can see the result! https://t.co/08XbA3KUMk— Tohidul Islam (@PharmacistsCoop) December 13, 2017
Interesting and glad to see bolder pharmacists. Profession in general is undervalued, and its great to see some unity for once.— Amish Patel (@amishpatel1985) December 13, 2017
Probably because we feel like it’s now or never. The decimation of the profession has begun. Many younger pharmacists aren’t seeing the opportunities that there were before. Nothing left to lose but be bold. @ChemistDruggist https://t.co/7dv9HaBTlo— Pharmacist Thorrun (@pharmthorrun) December 13, 2017
@CandDKristoffer As you say it is only a very slight increase which is a real shame. Worse than the really low rates in London is the fact that available locum slots are lowest ever - the #pharmacycuts being responsible as more phcistproprietors opting to work through the week https://t.co/SUqQgW8Dwv— Rekha Shah (@KcwLpc) December 14, 2017
The C+D Salary Survey 2017 – which ran throughout October – was completed by a total of 1,754 pharmacists and pharmacy staff. C+D's ongoing coverage from the survey can be found here.
Search through hundreds of pharmacist roles on the C+D Jobs website