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Locums suffer consecutive rate drop

People Locums across the UK have seen their rates of pay fall in the past 12 months, according to the C+D Salary Survey 2012. And Numark's Mimi Lau (pictured) has predicted locums will face growing problems in the future.

Locums across the UK have seen their rates of pay fall in the past 12 months, according to the C+D Salary Survey 2012.

More than half said they had seen their rates fall, as over a fifth of 400 locums who responded faced a decrease of between 6 and 10 per cent.

The survey found that locums earned on average £22.79 per hour, down from the Salary Survey 2011 figure of £23.30, which was down on 2010's figure of £23.40.

"I suspect we will see more locums who find it difficult to find work as the number of pharmacy openings reduces and fewer pharmacists retire early" Mimi Lau, Numark

More from the Salary Survey 2012

Co-op bucks trend with rise in pay satisfaction

Pay rises get scarcer for second year

Pharmacy's feeling the pinch

Average hourly locum rates have fallen across the UK, with those in north-west and south-west England seeing their rates fall to £22.77 an hour from £23.63 and £23.86 in 2011 respectively.

Locum rates would always be a question of supply and demand, said Numark's director of professional services Mimi Lau. And she warned that the outlook was likely to get worse.

"The recent increase in graduates from schools of pharmacies has been taken up in part by exempted pharmacy openings (ie 100 hours).

"I suspect we will see more locums who find it difficult to find work as the number of pharmacy openings reduces and fewer pharmacists retire early," Ms Lau said.

Director of the PDA John Murphy said increased workloads for pharmacists generally were partly a result of employers cutting locum placements and "devaluing their service".

For more results, comment and news from the Salary Survey 2012 as well as tools including a salary calculator, wheel of blame, interactive map and employed/locum comparison calculator and much more click here

Has your locum rate dropped in the past year?

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Ziad Suleiman, Community pharmacist

I am disappointed to hear so many fellow pharmacists are willing to seek alternative incomes/careers due to potential pay cuts, even encouraging other pharmacists to follow suit! Do you not feel the need to fight for the future of the profession you chose? Now is not the time for running away or indeed apathy. We are not going to change the quantity of newly qualified pharmacists due out in the next 5 years. The issue here is a contract not fit for purpose. How do we change this? Everyone needs to get involved by getting behind the PDA, Pharmacy Voice and any other organisations with the clout to sort out the PSNCs farcical negotiations with DoH.

Tim B, Locum pharmacist

I am saddened to say this but the only way forward now is a show of strength to the multiples. ie a joint industrial action eg don't do mur's , don't send of prescriptions for pricing on time etc. Unfortunately, pharmacists will not fight together and that is the death knell for the remnants of this alleged profession.

A Panesar, Superintendent Pharmacist

Over the years I've employed many students to work weekends, two of the best worker who were also very bright went on to study Pharmacy. Sadly, they are both struggling to get work & charge £21 per hour. Three ex members of staff are now Social Workers, two of them are self-employed, work 9am to 5pm with a lunch break & charge £30 per hour, any work after 5pm is charged at a higher rate. The other is employed on over 40K per year for 34 hours per hour. Guess who ended up being the "brighter" ones with their career choice!!?????

Stephen Riley, Community pharmacist

I am not stupid and appreciate we live in hard economic times, uncertainity in the Pharmacy Contract and more Pharmacists coming out.

However, I do find it unacceptible when I get letters from large chains telling after 2-3 years regular work with them they are reducing the rate with no negociation or discussion, due to economic pressures and then post profits of £millions. Especially, when these companies have done this 3 times since the start od 2012.

It is particulary offensive when you then get area managers hassling you about services during your shifts and you get told if you do not do MUR / NMS your bookings will be cancelled.

We need Pharmacy Organisations to come together review the contract, how services are designed, paid and comissioned and some workforce planning for the future.

In the meantime I would recommend Chris' advice of finding alterative income where possible. Also, when you get generic letters about rate drops try and negociate where possible, as the worst they can say nis no.

Jennifer Richardson, Editorial

C+D blogger and locum Peter Dawson has offered his own anecdote to the findings of C+D Salary Survey 2012 on falling locum rates:
"On Friday it was the first day of Eid-ul-Adha and I worked a locum shift in Bradford. The pay was £21 an hour for nine and half hours, with no travel expenses. Five years ago on the same religious holiday I worked in the same pharmacy and earned £25 per hour plus £20 travel expenses. So my daily income has dropped from £257.50 to £199.50, a fall of 23 per cent.
"If over the past 5 years my pay had simply kept up with inflation I would have earned £291. So, allowing for inflation, my daily income has fallen in 5 years by by £135.25, or a whopping 31 per cent.
"I haven't the heart to calculate what my income on Friday might have been if there had been the occasional pay raise on top of inflation!"

Compare locum and employee pay with C+D's calculator at

PLUS Read Peter Dawson's latest blog at

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

This "Supply & demand" equation is completely distorted, in light of the contracts being ringfenced, There is no doubt, that if there would be numerous openings by pharmacists who would take the risk of bettering themselves whilst under undue pressure, with little or no increase of reward. for increasing workload.The pharmacy sector is well remunerated, and this is evidenced by the lack of decent pharmacies being offered for sale, and if there are any they are ofered at "eye watering" premimums. The reality is thet in this climate the with no outlet for new openings, the greedy non caring "Fat Cat" management, will plead povery, and drive down pay for locums and employees, simultaneoulsy extract more money from the paymasters, and bag the huge difrence. They will sit on their arses, conjure up new services, yield the whip, and extract more and get fat!!!. With the contract limitation, the message comes across loud and clear. Viva Revolution!!! Get rid of the fat cats.

Ramesh Menon, Community pharmacist

From all the comments so far one thing is common that we all agree the future of pharmacist pay rate are falling irrespective(branch manger or locum). The question is What are we going to do about it? unfortunately iam not sure and I hope it is not too late.

How High?, Community pharmacist

I'm quite sympathetic to the plight of locums but they have generally done very well compared to branch managers over the last 25 years, earning higher rates with little in the way of accountability when it comes to delivering any results for the business.
I have seen some truly excellent locums engaged in service delivery and really good at interacting with the branch team and their customers but I have never understood why they command a higher rate of pay than the equivalent branch managers, either in the muliple or the independent sector.
Looking at the salary survey results the recent cuts bring them more in line with their equivalent BMs which is still a good living and prestty secure compared the national average.
Mike and Raymond are both correct. I've seen rates falling for newly recruited relief managers to levels that are only a few pounds more per hour than an ACT earns. These younger pharmacists are generally bitter at the amount of work and time (in their education) they have invested for this return, are disillusioned and can't wait to get out of the profession.
There are many reasons for this but It's not sustainable for the profession

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Greg this argument of locums doing better has been visited before and on average the costs of operating as a locum were quoted on average as taking 15% of supposed income and there was never any security.

Expenses are tax pounds, VAT is not allowable etc etc. There is no 100% write off expenses.

I was asked once by a small agency the day before new years eve of a year some 10+ years ago, if I could work on that day. I was busy and said so.
However, as I did not say I was working, they took the hump. Never contacted me again after several years of work and numerous favors

It cuts both ways. If you get out of bed, walk across the road to a supermarket dispensary and do 12 hours a day for six days a week, most of the year round, then of course you would earn more.No travel costs incurred.

I suspect most locums do not have this kind of arrangement - and not so much these days. Sure there was always a lazy dead leg who would do bare minimum and shove scripts aside for the rest of us.

They won't last in this climate.

Younger pharmacists are going to be bitter.

I mean why have a bunch of suits around tables talking about how it will be in the future and give trendy pointless soundbites, when more pressing issues like too many students are in a system that will not support their ambitions and overwhelming investment in an uncertain future?

I mean 5000+ students in the system in 1999 and 13000~+ in 2009

Then there's this farce of 100's pages of SOP and we call repeat them by heart. AS if !!

Managers are not immune, they will get cut down. all of us will. I agree with Keith Morris above, rates will plummet in the next 2-3 years and none of us will be able to swallow a bitter pill that I am afraid we have some responsibility for ourselves.

We are now in a simple supply and demand equation. Student numbers, movement of people from other countries and the financial crisis curtailing retirements.This means some will get scared and get walked on. Accept paltry rates which becomes the benchmark for the rest of us.

What rate of pay will you accept before you ask yourself why you should shoulder the risk of criminal judgement on your good name on account of yourself or ACT/ technicians, chronic workload etc.

The answer may be individual but would that risk be worth a pay cut in salary or hourly rates of .......10%....20%....40%...?

Only you can decide but pay rates will degrade if static on account of living costs - before any pay axe is swung.It has started and wont stop yet.

I know I won't personally be risking my neck should pay rates fall below a certain level. I earn money in another capacity and will continue more in that direction in the coming years. Iadvise other locums to find something else they can earn income to supplement their decreasing pharmacy rates in the future!

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

A locum has no job security, pension, sick pay, holiday pay, training courses etc etc. Greg, when you fully account for all of these items you will find that locums are probably not better off. These drops in rates are silly and should not be tolerated.

Keith Morris, Locum pharmacist

Oh Well, the years of a naive inlooking profession have come home to roost. The rule in the private sector unlike the public sector is supply and demand. The over supply from pharmacy schools and the immigration of pharmacists from europe will ultimately result in mass unemployment among pharmacists. The real shame is for those at or leaving the pharmacy schools with £50 k plus of student debt and no real hope of ever paying it off. I confidently predict locum rates around £14 an hour within 18 months.

R A, Community pharmacist

Its a shame with work load falling as we speak. I used to be a relief manager but due to change in personal circumstances I had to swap over to being a locum, and without a shadow of doubt the work pressure is significantly lower as a locum. Being a manager is indicative to being sent the grave much earlier than you would like, because the work pressure is unbearable.

Disillusioned Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

The Co-op now has 3 volumes of S.O.P's I doubt the person who wrote them can remember them all and leave room in the brain for other information like doses and interactrions! They have become so vast now it is ridiculous indicating that the work load has gone the same way.

Mike Hewitson, Superintendent Pharmacist

There have always been clusters of provision around cities or Schools of Pharmacy. Looking in our (rural) area there is a real dirth of quality locums. New graduates need to be prepared to move where the work is.

When we have a contractual framework which is predicated on cost, it is not in anybody's best interests to see salaries fall.

Raymond Lee, Community pharmacist

RPS, PV and GPhC need to sit down with the SOPs and discuss manpower succession planning for the future. Otherwise it's a case of supply and demand and we will lose too many good pharmacists as they become disillusioned with the profession.

My SOP has increased three fold since I went there 25 years ago. This can't be sustainable.

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