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  • Writer's pictureKatie Alvers

What is the average locum pharmacist salary in the UK?

According to Glassdoor, the average locum pharmacist salary in the UK is around £41–65K per annum. Meanwhile, Chemist and Druggist says hourly rates are around £38. 

However, it’s important to note that this varies depending on factors such as location, experience and the demand for locum pharmacists in a particular area. And of course, the number of hours you work will also have a direct impact on your annual salary, as well as whether you’re part-time or full-time. 

Some locum pharmacists may also be able to negotiate higher rates, especially for weekend or evening shifts. The rules of supply and demand apply to locum pharmacists just as much as any other role.

If you are prepared to take on work in situations that are less desirable, such as in hard-to-reach places or working unsociable hours, you can expect a higher rate, even though you’re doing exactly the same work as someone else in a different situation.

What difference does the location make?

Location is complex in terms of salary, as there are push and pull factors that influence supply and demand. Sometimes it can be counterintuitive, too. For example, cities and large towns might have dense populations and high demand, but they also have more pharmacies, and more locum pharmacists living among the population. So those factors might neutralise each other, meaning city pharmacies generally pay about average.

In more rural areas, the populations are much sparser, so pharmacies tend to be less busy. However, these populations also tend to be weighted towards, say, agriculture, tourism and general commuters, so it’s less likely that there are a lot of locum pharmacies among them. That can be a positive as regards salary, although the lower demand might also mean that locum placements pop up less frequently.

In essence, it all comes back to supply and demand – if you’re offering an essential service and there isn’t much local competition, you might find yourself able to charge more per hour. But opportunities will probably also be rarer.

What areas typically have high demand for locum pharmacists?

The demand for locum pharmacists can fluctuate based on several variables such as population size and density, the health needs of the community, and the number of pharmacies and medical facilities in an area. 

Large cities with dense populations tend to have high demands due to the large number of patients that need services. This is particularly true for London, Birmingham, Manchester and other major cities in the UK. However, the dense population also means there are more pharmacists in the area.

Likewise, more affluent areas may also have a high demand if they have a higher proportion of residents using prescription medications. Areas with aging populations or populations with a high incidence of chronic health conditions may require more pharmacy services, hence require more locum pharmacists.

Lastly, rural or remote areas may have a high demand for locum services, not because of a large number of patients, but because of a shortage of permanent pharmacists willing to work in such locations.

Again, it’s important to note that these trends are general and can change over time due to a host of factors. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on job postings and market trends in your field.

Is there any difference in salary between locums in hospitals, independent, chain and community pharmacies?

Yes, the setting in which locum pharmacists work can influence their salaries. 

Hospital pharmacists tend to earn more than those in community or retail pharmacy roles. This is because hospital pharmacists are often required to have more specialised knowledge and may also work irregular hours. The greater complexities and responsibilities within a hospital pharmacy often justify higher pay. 

Independent pharmacies can pay more or less depending on factors such as the size of the pharmacy, the variety of services they offer or revenue they generate. It could also depend on whether the pharmacy is part of a larger chain or an independent business. National chains often have fixed remuneration levels that are country-wide, but there can still be some room for negotiation or variations in pay influenced by other local factors.

Community pharmacists usually earn less than hospital pharmacists given the difference in complexity of the job. However, this can also depend on factors such as how busy the pharmacy is, the services they offer (like flu vaccinations or health checks), and the location.

How do locum pharmacist salaries compare to those of permanent staff?

Locum and permanent pharmacists often have different pay structures and benefits, which can make direct comparison difficult. They can also have different roles and responsibilities which can impact the salary levels.

As a baseline, permanent pharmacists may have a lower hourly rate compared to locum pharmacists. However, permanent staff often have the security of guaranteed hours and benefits such as sick pay, annual leave, company pension contributions and sometimes healthcare benefits. Some permanent roles may also offer opportunities for professional development and progression.

Locum pharmacists, on the other hand, may be paid more on an hourly basis, as they usually do not get benefits such as paid vacation or sick leave, and they need to cover their own tax and national insurance payments. 

The higher hourly rate also often compensates for the fact that their work can be less stable, with fluctuating hours and periods of non-work. Ultimately, locums can also take advantage of how desperate the pharmacy is for staff, which can mean they can command higher hourly rates, just as people will pay a premium for same-day delivery.

Finally, locum pharmacists may also have greater flexibility in where and when they work, which can be seen as a significant non-monetary benefit by some individuals.

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