Why are more new pharmacists deciding to locum?

Sep 28, 2022
Scott is the partner responsible for looking after the firm’s healthcare and medical sector clients. Scott also specialises in advising small businesses.
Locum pharmacist


The qualifying process to becoming a pharmacist is a long journey. To become a pharmacist candidates will need to complete a four-year degree, one year of practice as well as passing the highly feared registration exam. Only after this can a pharmacist start their professional career as a pharmacist.

Earlier this year more than 2,000 candidates passed the June registration exam a further 584 and 2,371 candidates passed in November 2021 and June 2021 respectively. This group represents the newest pharmacist workforce across the UK.

Despite this many contractors are finding it very difficult to fill permanent vacancies. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many newly qualified pharmacists are choosing to work for themselves rather than opting for permanent employment.


Better pay and flexible working

Marvin Munzu who is the Co-founder of PreReg Shortcuts told Chemist and Druggist that he was beginning to notice a ‘trend’ where more of his trainees decided to start their pharmacy career as locums before looking for a permanent contract. Marvin admitted that this was a choice that he made himself when he completed his pre-registration course with Lloyd’s pharmacy. Despite being offered a permanent role he decided to become a locum because of the better pay and more flexible working. This also enabled him to work in a variety of pharmacies so he could choose the one that best suited him.


Less stressful

A Birmingham-based pharmacist who joined the register in January 2022 said that their decision to become a locum was based upon their view that being a locum was less stressful compared to working in a full-time community pharmacist role. They believe that becoming a locum offers a better work-life balance and workload versus pay as a full-time community pharmacist role often involves more responsibility.


Poor experience as a provisional pharmacist

Another locum pharmacist who has been on the register for a week has said that their decision to become a locum was based upon a difficult experience as a pharmacist manager. Within this role this locum pharmacist was understaffed with one dispenser and two apprentices and a lot of pressure coming from head office. Ultimately this pharmacist decided not to continue in this role and become a locum which has enabled them to explore their career options in hospital outpatient pharmacy.


What would make locums consider a permanent role?

One locum said that they would only consider a full-time role if they were offered a higher salary to do so. They feel that full-time pharmacists are underpaid for the work and responsibility required for the role. Furthermore, workforce issues in community pharmacies remain an issue as many are understaffed which creates more stress for the full-time pharmacist role. This is creating a lack of full-time pharmacists willing to work in the sector in its current state.

Newly qualified pharmacists either find being a locum more appealing or are being put off becoming full-time community pharmacists. Either way pharmacy owners will need to find a way to make their full-time roles more attractive for pharmacists in the future.


How can we help?

At Hawsons our dedicated team of pharmacy accountants offer a specialist service to community pharmacists and locum pharmacists. We can assist you with accountancy and taxation needs, utilising our in-depth knowledge and experience in the sector.

We recognise that no two pharmacies are the same and have experience in dealing with pharmacies of varying sizes and ownerships structures.

Our services include assistance with all aspects of accounting, taxation, management and financial matters.

Free initial meeting

Scott Sanderson

Partner, Sheffield


Dan Wood

Partner, Doncaster


David Owens

Partner, Northampton


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