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GPhC: Locums should not ‘profit’ by co-ordinating COVID-19 rate hike

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The GPhC said it recognises the “important role” of locum pharmacists in the fight against COVID-19
The GPhC said it recognises the “important role” of locum pharmacists in the fight against COVID-19

Locums should not to try to profit from the COVID-19 outbreak by colluding to “inflate their hourly rate”, the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) chief executive has told C+D.

The GPhC is “concerned” about reports that “a small minority of locum pharmacists” are co-ordinating to “significantly inflate” their hourly rates, Mr Rudkin told C+D last week (April 3).

“We are in no way trying to suggest that all locums are taking advantage of the current emergency to negotiate higher rates, or that locums cannot individually negotiate rates with their clients,” he said.

However, neither contractors nor locums should be looking to “profit from” the COVID-19 outbreak by “involving themselves in anti-competitive action”, Mr Rudkin added .

The GPhC will “continue to take a balanced and even-handed approach to issues raised about some pharmacy owners and some members of the profession”, he continued.

“The important role locum pharmacists are playing”

“The requirement to behave professionally at all times remains in place and at this time of national crisis it is more important than ever that everyone’s first concern is for patients and the public,” Mr Rudkin said.

The GPhC understands “the important role locum pharmacists are playing by helping to keep pharmacies open to provide safe and effective care for patients” and is “very grateful for their contribution”, he added.

Earlier this month, (March 19) he warned the sector against “profiteering to take selfish advantage” of the COVID-19 outbreak, either with “prices of shortage products or locum rates” and was met with criticism from the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA).

In a statement published last week (March 30), the PDA argued that locums are within their rights to negotiate higher hourly pay during the crisis. The PDA said that while it agreed with the regulator that vastly inflated locum rates during the pandemic could “undermine wider public confidence in the profession”the GPhC has “no other legitimate regulatory interest in the commercial rates agreed between locums and their clients”.

C+D has spoken to locums and contractors from across the UK to find out if rates have increased and whether higher rates are justified in the current situation.

Read C+D's feature on the controversy around raising locum rates following the COVID-19 outbreak

101 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of Mr Rudkin's comments?

sunil maini, Community pharmacist

To all locums out there.Do not be angry with independent pharmacies.Vent you spleen at Richie Sunak.We paid all staff,including locums,for over time during the first lockdown. six months on,we have not har any promise of re-imbursment for these costs;any extra profits and to be re-paid.I do not see Mr Sunak asking supermarkets to re-pay any "excess" profit when all stocked up on pasta!!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I'm No 100!!!!!!!! Woo hoo!!!!

Brian Plainer, Locum pharmacist

So DoH continues to pay for meds that become less popular at massively contorted prices and have done for years, but heaven forbid, should locums,being remunerated at a level less than 15 years ago, wish to raise their fees to what they ought have been - then we're unprofessional. Duplicitous joke!

Boom Shakalaka, Locum pharmacist

The multiples are controlled by selfish, self-interested scum.

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Rudkin is in bed with the contractors. How about you do your job and regulate our working environment by implementing a minimum staffing level? WE SHOULD NEVER BE IN A POSITION WHERE WE HAVE TO SELF CHECK OR SHUT SHOP AND BE BLACKLISTED!!
STRIKE FOR BETTER WORKING CONDITIONS AND PAY RISE!!

H Gokul, Community pharmacist

This person has no concept of human rights or Contract Law. His comments have changed because of advivce from lawyers. GPHC is threatning pharmacists every way it can. They have no power and the person at the top is behaving like a despot. I have a story which I would like to publicise .More to come

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

I have questioned over and over what role Duncan Rudkin and the GPHC are playing in Community Pharmacy. We are in the middle of the worst medical crisis on earth and I have worked every day in a Pharmacy with no Protective equipment and no real measures to control the Coronavirus. A colleague developed symptoms of the virus and "The Manager" did not even think of sending the staff home because there was no policy. When I contacted the Superintendent Pharmacist, they asked me if I had told anyone. This is Community Pharmacy at its best: If noone knows, dont make noise. Most Pharmacies are not fit to provide service in this crisis, Pharmacists and staff are being put at risk. Yes, I understand we have a central role to play but then we have to provide this service safely. This is also the time for the Reguatory authority to be seen to provide an enabling regulatory enviromnent to ensure services are provided safely. Instead they opt to remain in the background and do nothing except make noises just to remind the world they exist.

The other day, we received a Controlled drug for a patient in the Pharmacy from an online Pharmacy. It is still on a counter in the front shop. Does anyone care anymore or am I behind events. Or should we furlough Duncan and his team till after this crisis, given that Pharmacy regulation is on autopilot.

Sham Kiani, Community pharmacist

I wonder how much Rudkins salary has increased from 125k in 2009 to somewhere between 170-180k in 2019. I can assure mr rudkin no locum is earning a fraction of his extortionate salary. GpHc need to move out of Canary Wharf and get rid of all these expensive penpushers.

 

 

 

 

 

Sher Khan, Locum pharmacist

Wow! If there was ever an obvious explaination that the GPhC is sitting in the pockets of big cooperation it would be this! 
reading the frustrations of each comments makes me happy that all the members are united on their comments but same time sad that we have to resort to this level. 
where was the GPhC when multiples were throwing £18hr in Venloc of locums to fight over ?!?!  There is NO pharmacy business WITHOUT a pharmacist .. doesn't get any easier to understand then that. 
 

 

 

D Change, Community pharmacist

Brainless morons in their office.

Don't try to reinvent the wheel. It's called supply and demand.

And while we're talking ethics....

1. why don't you move out of your giant office and cut your pays by half
2. why don't you actually walk into a community pharmacy for once in your lives

Robert Evans, Community pharmacist

1. A pharmacy contractor has an unfilled shift and advertises for a locum pharmacist at £25 per hour. 

2. No one applies. 

3. The contractor increases the offer through stages up to to £30 per hour. 

4. A locum decides to cancel other family commitments and to accept the contractor's offer of £30 per hour. 

5. Conclusion - that's disgusting and unethical of the locum pharmacist to accept (I'm joking or being sarcastic). The locum should be immediately reported to the GPhC (same again). 

6. In law of contract, who makes the offer? It's the person who offers to purchase goods or services (the pharmacy contractor). Again, in law, who does the accepting? It's the provider of goods or services (the locum). 

7. Final question - would it help if the GPhC made it explicit that locum pharmacists should not accept offers over a certain threshold? 

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

@Robert Evans. 7. Or below a certain threshold?

Madni Sheikh, Locum pharmacist

With the mess the locums are left to clear on top of lacking staff & the resultant risks involved they certainly deserve a higher rate. The GPHC would'nt have any mercy if something went wrong in such conditions always blaming the'Responsible Pharmacist'. So they are entitled to a higher rate to accommodate higher indemnity 

David Kent, Community pharmacist

As a retired pharmacist, but still a member of the Society, I believe I can speak more freely than many pevious correspondants to this thread. I am not registered with the GPhC.  Duncan Rudkin should keep his mouth shut on matters that do not concern him.  The contractua lrelationshaip between a locum and employer is a matter for them and only them.  Locums are exploited,I recently came accross a locum earnig £14 per hour as he was working for his uncle and could not let family down.  I believe that locums now have no option but to withdraw services en masse until a resasonable pay norm is established.  A minimum of £30 per hour is required.

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

Locums should unite and stop taking forward bookings at the miserly rates of £19.00 p/h. We should collectively insist on a rate of £30.00 p/h, and these are achieable as has been demonstrated in the current climate

Thamina Pinky, Locum pharmacist

40 it should b 

Thamina Pinky, Locum pharmacist

40 I thought 

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

£250 per hour funding for bank holiday opening. I wonder what Rudkin thinks and more interestingly let's see what rate Locums are paid for Friday and Monday working......

CAPT FX, Locum pharmacist

It is high time that Duncan Rudkin distances the Image of the GPHC as the Human Resources or Publicity department of Pharmacy owners. This is an employment issue subject to negotiation between the employer and the Locum. There is no regulatory relevance to this statement.

In the meantime, there are severe regulatory issues like Premises; we work in which are not fit to operate as Pharmacies and even more dangerous in this environment. I have worked in a Pharmacy that used to be the small kitchen of this house which was converted into a surgery. It's so tiny, cramped and a health and safety hazard, yet it passed inspection for the last 20 years. I am sure Pharmacists here can come up with examples of regulatory gaps or flaws which Mr Ruddkin has barely explored. Yet in the middle of the worst medical crisis in our living memory, he finds time to talk about Locum rates. This is very sad indeed or confirmation of our fears over the years that he is out of touch with his role and the regulatory obligations of the body he is leading.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

It would be great if the editor could investigate these issues without fear of the multiples.

Daneil Kumar, Locum pharmacist

I asked for £25/h for emergency cover. All my shifts got cancelled. I would not book any work untill the situation improve. Thank you Rudkin you just made it clear to the multiples how much my contribution to the society as a pharmacist worth.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

There is a pharmacy in my little high street that hasn't been open for days for no reason apart from a note saying couldn't get staff.
Or more likely doesn't want to pay a Pharmacist with a figure beginning with a 2!!
What a HOOT !!

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

There has to be some balabnce here. 

There's groups which set minimum locum rates in order to advertise a shift to prevent low locum rates. You have to expect criticism when locums demand a much higher wage. Whatever the circumstances.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Oh come on Mark
Locums haven't had a pay rise for 12 yrs.
I worked yesterday for the rate I was earning in 2005.
And all because the Unis flooded the market.
The cuts didn't come in until 2016.
But my rates were frozen and cut from 2008 while the global sum still rose for nearly another decade. All into contractors pockets, strange that 2008 was the year many new graduates began joining the register.
I tell all pharmacy work experience and students don't do Pharmacy. I post it all over the student room site too. Anything to try and save a few kids a miserable life chained to a multiple.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I totally understand. But you're completely missing my point. The real world isn't sympathetic towards the wage rate and the training/historical rates/inflation/work load.

The locum community pharmacist is entirely exposed to the forces of demand and supply. The only intervention are examples of 'set rates' up on venloc and via agencies. Outside of this is purely down to an agreement the employer and the locum.

The groups I've mentioned will only allow shifts to be advertised at a rate in order for that group to be used as a platform to advertise. This is to prevent locum rates plunging (I've seen NQ locums work for £15/hr in saturated areas just because they can secure a full 2 week block work).

I'm suggesting in the other direction a maximum rate within criteria is only fair. Consider, for example, an independent in a remote area with a one pharmacist owner. Should that pharmacist have to self isolate for 2 weeks at short notice then it's unreasonable for that company to spend £40/£45 per hour on a locum. It could potentially cripple the finances of the pharmacy all because of demand and supply.

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

With respect you are correct that actual cuts did not arrive until 2016. However funding did not rise from 2008 but pharmacies were expected to absorb substantial extra workload, associated wage costs, Catagory M,clawbacks, drug tariff anomolies and multiple other overhead expenses, All this against a background compounded by inflationary pressure. By 2016 the situation had become increasingly difficult so an actual cut was and has been disatrous fro many especially lower volume pharmacies.  

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

I note the dislikes to my comment but wonder what exactly is factually incorrect  ?

Little Locum, Locum pharmacist

Yes, there are also groups called "agencies" that contractors use to set out maximum rates of pay in the same way.

We as locum pharmacists don't expect criticism from employees of the GPhC i.e. Duncan Rudkin who quite frankly are unqualified to make statements such as these about the profession.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

The GPhC will go after and punish individual pharmacists who made up MURs for no financial gain but to stop the endless bullying. And do Nothing to the big company.

But then go outside their remit to "protect the public", as soon as their mates in the multiples are asked to pay a few extra quid to exhausted locums.

This has Nothing to do with a regulatory body. If you contacted them about not being paid for a locum shift they would tell you nothing to do with them.
But suddenly interested! Only the other way round, to protect their multiple overlords.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

To all the locums out there - this just confirms what the GPhC thinks of you all - you are all money grabbing profiteering scumbags the lot of you. Go on strike, refuse bookings for a week and then they might see the contribution and worth of a locum. Get out NOW - I have.

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