Few topics create more controversy than locum pay rates. Many C+D readers were outraged earlier this year when WeLocum posted a job on its website at £15-an-hour – leading the agency to remove the advert. In September 2016, locum group OneVoice Pharmacy even boycotted Tesco pharmacies in protest at rate cuts.
Research by C+D has consistently shown big regional variations in locum rates, against a background of falling pay nationwide. So how much should a locum pharmacist get paid, and what’s behind the geographic variation? Is it a simple question of supply and demand, or should pharmacists – with five years’ training and a high level of responsibility – expect to be remunerated at a certain rate?
Which region's pay is best – and worst?
The £15-an-hour controversy prompted WeLocum to set a minimum rate of £18 for jobs posted on its site. Some pharmacists believe hourly rates should never drop below £20, but there’s no clear consensus on a minimum rate.
C+D last collected information about regional locum rates in its 2016 Salary Survey, completed by 252 locums between October 16 and December 21, 2015. As it reported last year, the average UK rate – £20.50 per hour – was at an eight-year low, down from £24 in 2008.