Nearly half of locum pharmacists report greater difficulty in finding shifts over past year

Exclusive: Out of 144 respondents, 44% said it had become “more difficult” to obtain locum shifts over the past year.
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Almost half of locum pharmacists who responded to a survey said it had become harder to obtain shifts over the past year.

The Pharmaceutical Journal‘s 2024 annual salary and job satisfaction survey, which ran from 15 to 29 April 2024, asked UK-based locum pharmacists: “Has it been more or less difficult to obtain locum shifts during the past year?”

Of the 144 locums who responded to the question, 44% (n=63) said it had become “more difficult”, while 44% (n=64) said it was “the same”.

Some 12% (n=17) said it had gotten easier to find a locum shift over the past year.

In 2023, the survey revealed that 31% of the 295 respondents said finding locum shifts had become more difficult, while 27% of respondents (n=79) said it was easier.

In June 2024, a report by health think tank Public Policy Projects raised concerns that the current model for the ‘Additional roles reimbursement scheme’ (ARRS) had “created more competition for skilled staff between sectors” and left many pharmacies relying on locum staff.

The report recommended a community pharmacy-dedicated ARRS to help address workforce shortages.

Commenting on the 2024 survey results, Paul Rees, chief executive of the National Pharmacy Association, said: “Two-thirds of pharmacies have reduced their opening hours in the last decade and we have seen over 1,400 pharmacies shut since 2017 due to funding pressures.

“Sadly, this has had an impact on the availability of locum shifts, with pharmacies having to cut back to make ends meet.

“Only by reversing historic funding cuts and reinvesting in community pharmacy can the government halt these closures, which will provide more opportunities for locum staff in the future.”

According to data published by the NHS Business Services Authority in May 2024, there has been a net loss of 432 community pharmacies in England 2023/2024, which the Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) said was the highest annual net number of closures since 2015/2016.

In 2023, the CCA also reported that there had been a net loss of 1,008 pharmacies in England between 2015 and 2023.

Results from an analysis by the National Pharmacy Association, published in June 2024, showed that around two-thirds of pharmacies in England have had to cut their opening hours since 2015 owing to funding pressures.

This followed analysis by The Pharmaceutical Journal of 10,000 pharmacies in England that showed 22% had reduced their hours between December 2022 and December 2023 by an average of 10.5 hours per week.

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, July 2024, Vol 313, No 7987;313(7987)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.323458


  • Michael Hannay

    Interesting article when will we see a full analysis of the survey?

    • Carolyn Wickware

      Hi Michael,
      As with our previous surveys, we will be publishing this year's results in news stories and long-form articles over the coming days and weeks.
      Kind regards,
      Carolyn Wickware (Executive editor, The Pharmaceutical Journal)


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