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Inverness in Scotland has highest locum pharmacist rate in UK

Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co, has today launched its Pharmacy Market Review 2022 report, which analyses key trends in the UK pharmacy sector in 2021 and in the first half of 2022.

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Christie & Co's Pharmacy Market Review 2022

Following Freedom of Information Requests sourced by Christie & Co, the General Pharmaceutical Council confirmed that 360 pharmacies were removed from the register over the course of the 12 months to March 2022. NHS Business Services Authority recorded 557 pharmacy ownership changes in the same period. As of 31 March 2022, there were 14,370 registered pharmacy premises across the UK; 1,298 of these are in Scotland, 526 in Northern Ireland, 730 in Wales, and 11,816 in England.

One of the key areas of focus in the report is the resourcing challenges faced by these pharmacies over the last 12 months which, it says, is sure to impact wage cost margins. From analysis of both valuation and transactional data for 2021/22, Christie & Co found:

Wages (including locum costs) have risen by 0.2 per cent, wages (excluding locum costs) have risen by 0.5 per cent, locum costs as a percentage of total wage costs have fallen by 2.9 per cent, the EBITDA margin has risen by 1.7 per cent, and Gross Profit margin has risen by 1.9 per cent.

Resourcing in the sector has placed a huge strain on community pharmacies, as, increasingly, staff are being lured away. In May 2022, GP-based media outlet, Pulse, reported that, according to NHS Digital figures, which are based on data submitted by 84 per cent of PCNs (Primary Care Networks), PCNs have hired 4,722 Pharmacists, and 16,780 staff have been hired with support from the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme (ARRS) and are working in general practice. The most recruited-to role is Social Prescribers, followed by Care Coordinators and then Pharmacy Technicians at 1,364.

To fill the staffing gap, many operators are turning to locum workers, the price of which is also on the rise. According to data supplied by end-to-end workforce supply company, Locate a Locum, which covers 30,000 UK locum pharmacist bookings across both independent and corporate settings, the average hourly rate as of July 2022 for locum cover across the UK was £37.49, an increase of £4.81 on the 12-month average it recorded in 2021.

In England, hourly locum rates increased to circa £36.95, whereas in Wales and Scotland the rates increased to £37.93 and £48.86, respectively. The highest rate recorded in the UK was in Inverness, Scotland, at £54.11 per hour. In contrast the lowest was in Derry/Londonderry at £26.61.

This data shows not only the significant increases the sector is facing but also the considerable regional variations that exist.

The report also includes analysis of market composition, operational activity, employment challenges, key dispensing and services activity, online pharmacy platforms, and sector funding, and offers insight into a range of publicly available data and proprietary data from key business intermediaries.Tony Evans, Head of Pharmacy at Christie & Co, comments, “As we have emerged from the grips of the pandemic, the sector has continued to deliver its pivotal primary care role. Whilst there have been gains in dispensing volumes, the sector has also had to contend with increasing cost headwinds exemplified in supply and drug pricing issues, as well as staff resourcing issues alongside significant increases in locum costs.

“Nonetheless over the last year, we have witnessed many pharmacy contractors keen to expand their businesses both through acquisition as well as the development of additional services. As a result, the market has continued to see positive activity, something we reported in our Business Outlook 2022 publication. We are pleased to report that this trajectory has continued, mirroring that of the previous year, with appetite across all aspects of the market.”

Jonathon Clarke, CEO and Founder at Locate a Locum, adds, “Not only have rates been impacted by the loss of pharmacists to PCN (Primary Care Network) and GP roles, but the situation has also been exacerbated by the fact that many pharmacists have taken long-overdue holidays or sickness absences, etc. In addition to the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination rollout, these factors will continue to exert pressure on the sector for the foreseeable future.”

To read Christie & Co’s Pharmacy Market Review 2022, visit:

For further information on this press release, contact:
Phoebe Burrows, Corporate Communications Manager
P: 07540 063 598 or E:

Contact the agent:
Tony Evans, Head of Pharmacy
P: 07721 884 386 or E:

Visit Christie & Co’s Business Search page to find out more about current medical listings.

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