Of the 246 locum pharmacists from across the UK who responded to the question on the survey – which ran throughout October – 48% said it had become “a little” or “a lot” harder to find work over the previous 12 months.
In comparison, 44% said the difficulty level “was about the same”, while 8% said it had become easier.
London appeared to be the hardest place to secure a shift, with 59% of respondents from the capital reporting it had become more difficult between October 2016 and October 2017.
Northern Ireland was the only part in the UK where the majority of respondents told C+D it had become less of a struggle to find work. No locums in the country said it had become harder, while over 70% found it “a little” or “a lot” easier than the previous year – despite the same proportion saying they were dissatisfied with their rate.
View C+D's locum rate map below to see how the search for locum shifts has changed in each region of the UK.
Demand “still there” – in some areas
Miraj Patel, chief executive of locum agency My Locum Choice, said he “wouldn’t be surprised if people are finding it harder to get work” in some parts of the UK.
But he insisted “there is still work out there” – and added his company has just experienced its “best year”.
“We did more [business] than last year. Locums that are flexible have located outside of saturated areas...where the demand is still there.”
Thorrun Govind, a locum pharmacist in Lancashire, said the difficulty in finding work may be a “sign of the times” – with contractors “more likely to keep a regular locum...because they need that continuity of business”.
Tohidul Islam, founder of locum network The Locum Pharmacist Cooperative, said he has had “regular work” over the past 12 months – but has noticed “the amount of work...has gone down”.
Mr Islam blamed the shortage of shifts on pharmacy owners being forced to work more hours, and multiples hiring more relief pharmacists.