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Tesco locum rallies support against cut to pay rates

Letter claims the slash in locum rates is seen by Tesco as way to increase profits

A locum pharmacist has created a template letter to send to the supermarket's head office

A locum pharmacist has started an email campaign in protest at Tesco's decision to drop its locum rates from July 20. 

Siddiqur Rahman originally posted his email template in a social media group for locums in Greater London, Essex and Kent. But it is now being used by locum groups around the country, he told C+D. 

Mr Rahman drafted the letter in response to news that Tesco will cut its rates by between £1 and £3.50. Full details of the changes can be found here.

Read the full letter, addressed to Tesco's pharmacy operations manager, below: 


Firstly, I'd like to thank you for sharing your thoughts with us – a healthy relationship between companies and locums is key and open communication is, I feel, a focal part of that.

However, in the same vein, the significant reduced locum rate drop to £18/hr, and also especially the Sunday and Bank Holiday rates being the same rate as on a Saturday, are well below the market standard and so pharmacists aren't being entirely unreasonable to expect a fair rate.

Also, from experience, a lot of locum shifts offered by Tesco have been on an urgent emergency basis, mainly on a social media platform such as Facebook and Whatsapp. To offer these shifts for £18/hr starting rate seems abysmal, especially when we are expected to be flu vaccination accredited.

Additionally, I feel that, from experience, Tesco's general rates are at the low end being offered and that's why I've generally gone to other companies when offered shifts at a higher average rate and covering my travel expenses. Perhaps this backlash is a symptom of a general dissatisfaction with reduced locum rates over the years, with companies preferring to pay someone £20/hr just to get the job done, over someone such as myself – with more extensive management experience and aiming to fulfill at least two MURs and some NMS activity at a slightly higher rate of £23/hr.

I fully recognise the potential pharmacy cuts from the NHS which have yet to be applied. However, I feel that to slash locum rates now is purely an easy way to increase profits.

I also feel that to ensure retention [of staff], Tesco may need to look at paying higher rates to attract and then keep the right kind of locums, especially when we are being asked to undergo flu vaccination training at our own cost, and at increased risk and liability to ourselves – even though Tesco say they will cover the indemnity.

I look forward to working with you in the future. I hope that my feedback is taken in a positive light, as I have much respect for your company.

Yours sincerely,

[Insert name]


Do you agree with the Tesco locums? 

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Phantom Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

It's all about supply and demand.

They need locums, presumable coz they can't fully staff their stores (that's another issue), and they will continually drop rates until the supply stops. All they are looking for is a regitered pharmacist preferably with a heart beat.

If you vote with your feet instead of ranting on social media and sending hollow threat emails all the while still accepting bookings, then this situation will remedy itself overnight. #FACT

Question is: Do you want to die a hero or live a coward?

Olu Fasogbon, Community pharmacist

It is a sad time for the profession of Pharmacy. This is exactly what happens when a profession is handed over to hawks.

Some 25 years ago locum gp doctors were paid £40 - £45/hour while Pharmacist got paid about £25.00/hour and today locum gp doctors get paid about £100.00/hour while Pharmacist are being offered £18.00/hour.

We should all be ashamed of this denigration of the profession. Can we continue to call this a profession? In other professions this kind of situation will not be allowed to rear its head. The top pharmacist responsible for this exercise should be called to question. It is about placing commercial interest over and above that of the patient and the professional It is about placing commercial interest over and above that of the patient and the professional.

In this same company locums have complained of being made to work without support staff, no counter staff, no dispenser and no technician. In this day and age I am shocked that they are getting away with it. A pharmacy manager recently left this company because of such disregard for ethics and patient safety.

I wonder where the RPS and even the GPhC stand in all of this. Pharmacists’ morale is being destroyed year in year out and these bodies are keeping quiet.

I wonder if Pharmacy schools teach anything about standing tall and carrying yourself with dignity as a professional. How can we explain top pharmacists being happy to reduce the professionals to beggarly levels? Some independents I heard are even happy at this company's initiative. It is disgraceful. Where is our pride as professionals? At this rate Pharmacists wages will soon be comparable to national minimum wage. Sad, very sad.

The proliferation of Pharmacy schools has contributed to the oversupply of Pharmacists which companies like this are taking advantage of. The GPhC needs to merge some of these Pharmacy Schools as it is affecting the quality of graduates and reducing the profile of Pharmacists to the extent that companies like these will wake up one day and shamelessly reduce locum rates to £10.00/hour

These are indeed sad times but pharmacists, locums, employee and self-employed should arise to the occasion and save this profession

Phantom Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

"Some 25 years ago locum Pharmacist got paid about £25.00/hour"

Really? I was seriously underpaid back then if that was the case!

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

No use moaning on the C+D comments and posting letters that no one will read. Need to form a strong union, unite all employee pharmacists and threaten strike action. It works for the French...35hr working week anyone?

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Valentine, if you are up for doing this let me know i will help you

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Very well said! If you were to read the comments every year since 2005, they would all be the same. At each interval from £22 > £21 > £20 > £19 > £18 it was the same threat: 'I will refuse to work for these rates' 'that's one locum you have just lost' 'I can get paid more working as a ................' Roll on 2016 and the same people are saying the same thing whilst locum boards have never had so many enquiries for entry onto their locum lists. C and D 2017 will read Tesco reduces locum rate to £17/hour and there will be new email template for Tesco to delete to the trash folder. 

P M, Community pharmacist

this is true its a race to the bottom

P M, Community pharmacist

this same chap will moan about the rates and then go there for his weekly shop ... 

*This comment has been edited for breaching C+D's community principles*

nawaz mohamed, Locum pharmacist

I wouldn't shop at tesco for ethical reasons, let alone work there, they've been driving down high street independants for decades.

bilal hussain, Community pharmacist

Hundreds of pharmacists have emailed Tesco following this, to show their feelings about these rates. Please please PLEASE join the campaign and allow your name to pop up in tescos inbox regarding these rates!! Send the emails to both the following: 
[email protected]
[email protected]

b t, Manager

Better to lead a social media campaign. Twitter and Facebook are your friends. Name and Shame. Corporate image and greed in exploiting hardworking NHS pharmacists.

Pro Re Nata, Community pharmacist

Vote with your feet and larynx. It's difficult but Prove you're worth, unite and refuse low paid work. 

Radu Mihai Juverdeanu, Community pharmacist

What Tesco and most of the pharmacies are doing at the moment is outrageous but understandable as long as there is no organisation or anything in place to protect the pharmacist proffesion. We are talking about rules and regulations when it comes to us doing your job and all the responsibility is on our shoulders, but nobody cares about the working conditions, about the quality of the suport staff and the working volume. I understand that there are locums out there that get paid to sit around and do nothing and, in all fairness, they probaby don't even deserve the £18/hour but cutting payments do affect others that work their behinds off for the same amount. If we keep talking about improving patient services quality and the clinical knowledge of the pharmacists, this is clearly not the way forward. Paying less will never bring better services and knowledge. As I see it the pharmacist needs to stop being a label signer and get out of the dispensary, be in the front all the time, greeting patients and talking to them, taking in prescriptions , clinically checking them and passing them on to the properly trained support staff. The pharmacist should be the interface of the pharmacy, not a pharmacy assistant who bearley read the OTC guide. Then they will know what they are paying us for. The pharmacist proffesion needs a new strategy and forward thinking. We are 100 years behind and no wonder nobody wants to pay us anymore.

Myke Kofi, Locum pharmacist

I endorse Radu's idea that as frontline pharmacists we should be interacting as much as possible with patients/carers/worried well in our accessible community pharmacies. Having suitably trained support staff and supportive management is critical to this. My reality is, I get bogged down in mundane day-to-day issues (hey EPS, anyone?) to be able to do this as much as I'd like to. I really cannot understand the RPS's reluctance not to get involved ensuring that the real working conditions of pharmacists/pharmacy techs are as fair as possible. Enough of exploitative employers taking advantage of us.


nawaz mohamed, Locum pharmacist

RPS are in cahoots and have shares in the multiples, thats's why, together we the fact that they are not a Union.

Matt G, Community pharmacist

The only way they will raise the price is if locums start saying no. Until then there's no reason for the multiples to have any cause for concern. Pharmacists need to work together not against each other, and refuse these rates. Agency Nurses get far more than that on emergency, it's a joke.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

You are describing a type of collective action that requires a militant trade union and militant members. Community pharmacists/pharmacy are/is about as far away from this as could be possible.

b t, Manager

I wonder if C&D will call on Employers to behave ethically. After all, it did call for unity in the profession when contractors were going to face a "cut".

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