Pharmacist locum rates have been under pressure for some time and it is quite an established fact that they have been falling for some time now. Also they differ markedly throughout the United Kingdom, recent research by Locate a Locum suggests. The study looked at 30,000 shifts across a large number of locations and found Canterbury to be the best paid at just under £26 per hour with Northern Ireland being the lowest at an average of just over £17 an hour.

On first glance one might think the relative differences based on location could be due to associated living costs. Not so. London fared a disappointing average of just over £18 an hour. London postcodes are among the highest in the UK, meaning high rents and possibly having to face the impossibility of owning a home in London.

The locum rate quoted for London equates to an average salary of just over £35,000 per year pro rata. Given that the average first time buyer house price is £462,000 inside London, that locum would not only need to find an understanding lender that would agree a mortgage as a locum earning instead of a fixed salary, they would need about 13 times that salary as a mortgage. Ok so this includes the most expensive properties such as Chelsea which distort the average. Maybe but even the most affordable Borough of Barking and Dagenham averages about £255,000 for a first time buyer meaning over seven times the equivalent annual salary.

The pricing of locum rates does not tie in with cost of living and the authors have attributed it to oversupply of locums in some areas. But with such high prices and their subsequent trickle downwards into higher rent prices, will Pharmacists be willing or able to continue to work in this city indefinitely? Might we start to see an exodus of Pharmacists at some point from London either to other regions or professions if they can’t find the work? There is evidence that retainment of other healthcare professionals such as in nursing is becoming more difficult as the cost of London outpaces their salaries some of which have seen minimal or no real term increase.

The problem this will create may result in deterring some of the best applicants from becoming Pharmacists in future if they feel more valued elsewhere. A lot of effort goes into becoming a Pharmacist and it requires time and financial commitment especially with tuition fees jumping to record highs. Will all the people who care passionately about good healthcare be in a position to continue doing so if it means giving up any dream of homeownership in the city of their choosing or will they be happy to be part of the generation the media has dubbed generation rent?

Existing Pharmacists need to consider improving their skills if they wish to remain competitive in the jobs market. By considering training and additional skills you can be more valuable to your employer and reap the rewards of the additional career opportunities and job security they can help to provide.