Boots to launch new locum management system amid pharmacist shortage row
Eliza Loukou & Valerie Fiore
17 Nov 2022
It follows a continued debate in the sector about whether workforce issues in community pharmacy are down to a shortage of pharmacists or rather a lack of pharmacists willing to work in the sector under current pay and working conditions.
A Boots spokesperson confirmed to C+D that the chain is launching a new locum management system later in the year, which they said will make it easier for locums to book shifts and quicker for the multiple to process payments.
Following allegations shared on social media that Boots caps locum rates at £35 per hour in some areas, the spokesperson told C+D that the multiple “aims to offer competitive rates for locum pharmacists, in line with local market conditions, which are regularly reviewed”.
“Like other pharmacies, we are experiencing some challenges with pharmacist resource generally. Our teams are working hard to keep stores open, minimise disruption for customers and provide the best possible service,” the spokesperson added.
Meanwhile last month (July 19), the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) claimed that Tesco was shuttering its pharmacies when no cover could be found, after reportedly pressuring locum pharmacists to walk back on pre-agreed rates or risk losing out on shifts.
Another slide indicates that the system will initially go live for locum registrations from this month, while all locum shifts are expected to be booked through the new platform from September.
Boots did not directly address the claim that the new system will give Boots better control over locum rates.
Last month, community pharmacy bodies raised concerns over "rapidly inflating" locum rates, which they said “could limit pharmacies’ ability to reach their full potential to both help patients and support the wider NHS”.
However, the PDA hit back, saying this "attack" on locums would not make careers in the community sector more attractive to workers.