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Locum rates may be entering ‘period of correction’ report finds

Pharmacy News

Locum rates may be entering ‘period of correction’ report finds

The average hourly rate for UK locum pharmacists jumped by 3.7 per cent to £38.86 in the three months to September 30, booking platform Locate a Locum has claimed – though it adds that there are signs the sector is entering a "period of correction”.

The company’s latest quarterly report, which it says was “prepared for employers” in November, looks at data from over 56,610 locum shifts booked over the three-month period.  

Broken down by home nation, this comprised an average £2.93 decrease to £45.93 an hour in Scotland; a £7.39 increase to £45.32 in Wales; a £1.62 increase to £29.09 in Northern Ireland; and a £1.08 increase to £38.03 an hour in England.

As in the report for the previous quarter – which highlighted an average UK-wide increase of 14 per cent compared to the same period in 2021 – hourly rates in Inverness came out on top at £53.85 on average.

This was closely followed by Dumfries (£52.79) and Stirling (£51.39).

The highest average rate in England was documented in Exeter (£45.89 an hour) and the lowest in Wolverhampton (£30.76).

The highest rate for Wales was in Bangor at £45.50 an hour, while in Northern Ireland Derry came out on top at £29.80.

The overall average increase is “slightly behind the UK’s national average weekly wage growth of 5.2 per cent” according to ONS figures, said the report.

It noted that while Scotland continues to offer the highest rates, its lead has fallen from 23 per cent in the previous quarter to it 2021 benchmark lead of 15 per cent.

 “Due to various factors, the demand for locum pharmacists is at an all-time high, and this increased demand is impacting locum rates,” said the company, adding that the locum market “is reacting to the current volatile and unpredictable economic climate”.

The report continued: “With the UK forecasted to enter recession, pharmacies will continue to see their cash flow impacted by surging inflation, higher borrowing costs and their permanent and temporary workers demanding higher pay rates.

“Combining this with current economic policy instability, the locum employment market could be squeezed further.”

However, Locate a Locum said the sector may be entering a “period of correction”, citing Scotland’s reduced lead as evidence.

The report also suggests that the recruitment of pharmacists to primary care networks is having an impact on locum rates in the community pharmacy sector.

NHS Digital’s primary care workforce bulletin for September indicates that 3,422 full-time equivalent pharmacists were working in PCNs in that month.

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