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Revealed: The average locum pharmacist rate across the UK in 2019

Sixty-one percent of locums surveyed said they are dissatisfied with their pay
Sixty-one percent of locums surveyed said they are dissatisfied with their pay

The average hourly pay rate for locum pharmacists in the UK is the highest since 2012, having increased 36p since last year, according to the C+D Salary Survey 2019.

The average hourly rate for locum pharmacists who completed the survey across the UK is £21.99.

While this figure is the highest since 2012 – when the average hourly locum rate was £22.79 – the year-on-year increase of 36p is less than half of the 2017-18 increase, which saw the rate jump 79p.

The C+D Salary Survey 2019, which ran between October 1 and November 14 and drew responses from 229 locum pharmacists, found that despite a fourth year of increasing average UK rates, 61% of locums surveyed are dissatisfied with their pay.

This year’s rate may be the highest for seven years, but the average locum rate steadily declined between 2010 and 2015 and has not yet recovered.

Rates by location

Regionally, Wales saw the highest average hourly rate increase between 2018 and 2019 of £1.74 an hour, bringing the average up to £24.17 – the highest in the UK.

This was followed by the south-east of England – not including London – which reported a pay increase of £1.13 per hour. The average hourly pay of £22.40 is the third highest in the UK.

The largest decrease in the UK was reported in the south-west of England, where locums experienced a drop of £1.08 per hour, bringing their average pay down to £21.80.

In Northern Ireland, pay decreased by 33p and in Scotland by 19p, to £15.67 – the lowest in the UK by far – and £23 respectively.

See the full regional breakdown of average hourly pay rates on C+D's pharmacy locum map.

 Job satisfaction

Despite the increase in hourly pay, 61% reported feeling dissatisfied with their locum rate.

The highest level of discontent was recorded in the north-west of England, where 76% of locums said they are dissatisfied with their pay.

Conversely, although the average rate of pay in Northern Ireland is the lowest in the UK, only 33% of pharmacists in the region reported feeling dissatisfied.

Pharmacists in Wales were the least likely to be unhappy with their pay, with just 22% of respondents reporting they are dissatisfied.

The C+D Salary Survey 2019 – the largest UK survey of community pharmacy, and the biggest in the survey's 12-year history – ran between October 1 and November 14 and was completed by a total of 2,556 pharmacists and pharmacy staff. C+D's ongoing coverage from the survey can be found on our dedicated hub.

Search through hundreds of locum pharmacist jobs on the C+D Jobs website

Are these pay rates in line with your experience working as a locum over the last year?

William Johnson,

When I retired, in 1996, I was earning £17/hour as a locum. I calculate that allowing for inflation that would be about £30/hour today. 

C A, Community pharmacist

Looks like it's time for me to do the "corrected for inflation figures" again this year - 

2008 - £31.76/hr

2009 - £30.60/hr

2010 - £29.76/hr

2011 - £28.16/hr

2012 - £26.70/hr

2013 - £24.77/hr

2014 - £23.15/hr

2015 - £22.54/hr

2016 - Data not given

2017 - £21.74/hr

2018 - £22.02/hr

2019 - £21.99/hr

Great news guys, locum rates nearly kept up with inflation, so you are only earning on average 3p less per hour this year.


*Inflation figures used are from Office for National Statistics composite price index - other inflationary figures may produce differing results.

Raj Samra, Community pharmacist


The sole reason for the increase is the cartel like behaviour of Locums and their 'secret' collaborations in Telegram groups such as TPC. Editor - I can tell you my experiences so far so feel free to get in touch.


M Yang, Community pharmacist

Whether or not cartel like agreements are actually happening, there is nothing wrong with the principle of locum pharmacists standing as a united front against being exploited. No one wants to work in a profession where we actively undercut each other, this only creates a downward spiral that benefits no one in the long run. Pretty sure locum GPs aren't undercutting each other to get shifts. 

Alasdair Morrison, Product Development

Damn, I picked a bad time to give up locum work and get a proper job. If only I'd known I could have joined a cartel.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Yes, you've really missed out. Locums are living like Premiership footballers.......

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Why not share it here in the same way locums mention how they get last minute cancellations and the rates frozen for 10 years.

Ex Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

@david Kent

Nobody wants to do pharmacy. The majority of my year were in it because they didn't get the grades for medicine or dentistry. Many were in via back up or clearing. And now I stand as one of the few left in pharmacy since qualifying from UCL in 2015. Many of my peers went on to do those courses or even moved into the financial sector. pharmacy is honestly wasted. I haven't heard any good news in the past 3 years. They'll eventually kill us off and have Amazon type services delivering people's medications direct to their houses. And all those so called clinical roles will be done by the clinical GP pharmacist.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

DC, are you saying 100+ pharmacy graduates of your year 2015 have left the profession already? Can you give us a few stats please, just out of interest. e.g number in year, number left in which sectors of pharmacy, numbers now left the profession, destinations, etc? 

I find this shocking in just 4 yrs! 

David Kent, Community pharmacist

Why on earth are Schools of Pharmacy oversubscribed when you can earn more just about anywhere?

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

They're not David. They're in Clearing recruiting, even the Russell Group ones. Medicine selects, Pharmacy now recruits. 

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