To Be Or Not To Be… A Locum Pharmacist In The UK

If you’re reading this article, you’ve obviously at some time thought.. what is a locum pharmacist in the UK?

Well, essentially, a pharmacist has studied a 4 year or 5 year MPharm degree (assuming they’ve studied in the UK) and did a further 1 year of training, before passing an exam – which allows them to register with the GPhC (the General Pharmaceutical Council).

Then, and only then, they can then work as a pharmacist in the UK.

In addition, in order to become a locum pharmacist in the UK– they must then register as self-employed, become accredited on any enhanced services (for each health board they wish to work under), as well as sign up under the PVG scheme.

So as you can see, there are plenty of obstacles in the way!

It’s not uncommon for a locum pharmacist to be earning from £40,000 – £50,000.

However, since a locum pharmacist is self-employeed, they will not be entitled to employee benefits – such as pensions, paid holidays, sick leave, etc.

Not to mention that is a certain sense of instability – as you have to rely on other pharmacies actually needing you, in order to get work.

However, don’t let this discourage you. Once you are established, it is an extremely rewarding and fulfilling career. The hourly rate can be considerably higher than many other occupations, as well as higher than a pharmacist employee.

The role of a locum pharmacist in the UK, is usually to cover sickness , holidays or just to support another pharmacist who is engaged in enhanced services – such as MURs, nursing home visits,etc.

Most demand for locum pharmacists is usually in community pharmacy, however NHS hospitals do use locums to cover ward rounds, work in the hospital dispensary, or even in specialist roles.

The beauty of work as a locum pharmacist, is that you can essentially work anywhere in the UK, wherever there is a demand for one. And in my own experience, you can visit towns and cities that you would not otherwise visited. Example: I spent a lovely Saturday in the Island of Islay – and I was paid £200 for the privilege, had my meals, hotel stay, and travel expenses completely paid for. And because I did a brilliant job, I was asked back again to cover a 1 week holiday!

I even have heard of locum pharmacists working non-stop for months on end – so that they could save up a large lump sum and go globe trotting for the rest of the year!

If that sounds appealing, maybe being a locum pharmacist in the UK is for you!

There is a steep learning curve when first starting out as a locum pharmacist – however, with time, it can be an extremely rewarding career, with many benefits.



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