10/4/2023 | Pharmacies

Belfast pays lowest pharmacist locum rate in UK says new Christie & Co report

Today, specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co, launched its Pharmacy Market Review 2023 report, which analyses a range of topics relating to the UK pharmacy business market, including market composition, employment challenges, dispensing and services activity, online pharmacy, and the finance landscape.



As of March 2023, the total number of pharmacies in the UK was 14,328. Between 2022 and 2023, corporate operators saw the most significant decline in pharmacy numbers, with a net loss of 200 stores, while medium-sized pharmacy groups saw a decline of 68. Independently run pharmacies gained 167 pharmacies over the year.

The sector’s composition is now weighted firmly in favour of regional multiples and independent contractors, whilst those companies operating more than 300 have reduced to circa 35 per cent of the overall market.

In Northern Ireland specifically, there was a 0.2 per cent reduction in the number of pharmacies, taking the country down from 526 pharmacies in 2022 to 525 pharmacies in 2023. This was next to decreases of 0.8 per cent in Wales and 0.3 per cent in England, and a 0.2 per cent increase in Scotland.


The sector continues to face pressures as Pharmacists and qualified staff are lured away to GP surgery and PCN roles under the ongoing Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme.

Data supplied by Locate a Locum - which analysed over 160,000 locum pharmacy shifts for the period July 2022 to June 2023 - shows that, whilst respite in locum costs was aired by some contractors in the first half of 2023, workforce pressures are driving locum rate increases. Between 2022 and 2023, rates rose by 17.5 per cent in Northern Ireland, 0.3 per cent in England, 7.6 per cent in Wales. Scotland, however, saw a decrease of 2.9 per cent to £45.36.

From a cities perspective, rates increased by an average of 3.5 per cent across UK. Belfast has the lowest hourly rate at £27.38 – a 15.7 per cent increase on 2022 - while Derry/Londonderry, which recorded the lowest rate in the UK last year, rose by 22.3 per cent taking it to £29.63.

In contrast, Dumfries has the highest hourly locum rate in the whole of the UK. The largest decrease seen was in Inverness where the hourly rate dropped by 14.8 per cent to £50.91. The rate in Cardiff increased the most, by 30.3 per cent to £42.59.


In the first six months of 2023, the spread of buyer types was far more even than Christie & Co had seen in recent years, with a third of all sales completed to first-time buyers.

In 2022, 55 per cent of the sales Christie & Co completed were share sales. This has increased in 2023, with H1 statistics showing 57 per cent of sales had been of corporate structures. The company anticipates that the split between asset sales and share sales may narrow as outstanding change of ownership applications are determined over the second half of 2023.


Whilst some respite was witnessed in inflation figures in July, some financial market commentators consider that the implied path for the Bank Rate over the next three years is more likely to be 5.5 per cent, well ahead of that forecast by the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee in its Monetary Policy Report – August 2023. As a result, it is inevitable that the cost of commercial borrowing will not only continue to squeeze trading performances but may also restrict the number of products available in the marketplace.

From January to June 2023, asset finance covered one-third of all finance provided by Christie Finance, with continued strong demand to support the installation of automated dispensing robotics. Activity suggests that many community pharmacies across the UK and Ireland are taking advantage of automation to free up the space, time, and resources needed to become more customer-facing, handle additional services, and grow their businesses.

The report also includes an overview of supply and demand in the market, a review of pharmacy stocktaking services by Orridge, and key Christie & Co activity over the last 12 months.

To read the full Pharmacy Market Review 2023 report, visit: https://www.christie.com/pharmacy-market-review-2023/


For further information on this press release, contact:
Phoebe Burrows, Corporate Communications Manager
P: 07540 063 598 or E: phoebe.burrows@christie.com