Forum: Where have all the locums gone?

Stressed pharmacist in dispensary
“Just received an email from one of the locum agencies with the heading “Where have all the locums gone?” and a list of country positions offering the same rate that I can get in Sydney (or less) and asking me to probably stay in a motel and eat pub food for the duration.

Plenty of locums when we get paid enough to cover the lost day’s wages travelling 600km to work, and back, and the out of pocket expenses of eating out every night.

Locum rates are stuck at 2003 rates, despite the award increasing by 30% in that time. Distant pharmacies need to cover accommodation, meals and the time that it takes to travel, as well as the cost to do so.”

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  1. Pete

    “offering the same rate that I can get in Sydney” – so what is that exactly. I have a bunch of talking heads telling me its $25 an hour, yet when I offer essentially double that plus accom etc its not enough for some people – and I’m not even in the bush, just 40min out from major centers!.

    • Ahmed

      Hi Pete
      The award rate for a new graduate (full time permanent ) in Sydney is 25.44$ plus penalty rates for sure for experience pharmacist is 27.86$ and PIC is 28.51 $

      for permanent Causal Positions in Sydney is 31.80$ plus penalty rates for sure for experience pharmacist is 34.83 $ and PIC is 35.64 $ penalty rates applies as well

      for locum Pharmacist the above causal rates will be multiplied by 1.095( for super) so it will be 34.82 $, 38.13$ , 39 $ . Taking in consideration that the locums are not paid penalty rates but they get flat rates so with a small adjustments the locum rate in the city will start at 45$ which includes super (Mon- Fri ) and 50 $ (Sat) 55 $ (Sun)

      So if the locum gets this rates in the major cities why would he/she ever think of doing jobs away from the city.

      I hope that is a good explanation

      • Bob

        I work in retail, no responsibility and no stress. I actually don’t work as an pharmacist all that often anymore. My permanent p/t rate at a shopping centre is 28$/hr for retail sales. On Saturdays I get 1.25x and Sunday 2x. If the pay in pharmacy is to stay miserably low like how it is and you can get sued for the smallest thing, let alone disciplined. Why would you ever consider working in the industry. There really needs to be an incentive to travel to rural! My locum friends in physio (first year grad) Start on $35/hr. In addition to cover costs of travel the places they work in rural places pay 4 hours of pay for travel both way ($280) plus accom and other perks. Why would you bother with $40 for the middle of nowhere and fork out for time to travel and car expenses. Pharmacy needs to re think ‘seriously’ if they want to keep decent pharmacists.

        • and some.....

          Worth mentioning that this is a base rate for physio locums. This is paid regardless of how many treatments are completed (could be zero in theory). On top of this base rate is commission, in private practice, depending on the number of patients treated.

          • BJ

            Yes $40/hr as a locum is far too low. In the early 2000s you would get paid $45/hr + travel + loadings (some employers). In regional & rural areas you would get nice 4-star serviced accomodation + a car (or travel expenses) and internet access. You were well looked after. Really well. The travel expense payment would more than cover fuel (probably about double). Also all flights where applicable were paid. Someone always collected you at the airport. You were treated with respect.
            Often as a fulltime locum you would earn the equivalent of $165,000 in todays money + super, allowing for inflation. In your 20’s. It was a great time.
            Today the only way to earn big dollars in pharmacy ($300k+) is an owner.

        • BJ

          Yes, I would not take up any locum positions that are under $45/hr and do not pay travel etc. As an experienced pharmacist/locum the minimum is $45/hr. You often get what you pay for. Locums need to actively refuse anything less as they have done with great success to Tescos and other employers in the UK!

  2. Sue Muller

    Just to clarify. LocumCo posted this email containing listings for 4 locum positions all in rural areas. The rate offered was $45/hr for one position, $42/hr for another, $40/hr for the third and $50/hr for the fourth locum. (Weekday rate) In all cases travel @78c/km (or flights) and accommodation was included. All of these roles have since been filled and in most cases rates in excess of those offered were negotiated by us and subsequently agreed on.

    • Pharm

      That being said rates for locums in rural areas has not changed in 2 decades

      • richard churchward

        I am very happy to see that locum rates have ‘blipped’ up by a few dollars in the past 2 months. What I am less happy about is that the locum rate, as pharm says, did not move for 2 decades! I have payslips from 1997 to prove it..
        Whether we got in front of the curve in the late 90’s is open for discussion. I would contend that we have fallen way behind the curve since the turn of the century. It has been incredibly disheartening to read about the average annual pay rises experienced across the country when your effective take home pay is diminishing before your eyes.
        My tax return in 2013 peeled the scales from my eyes. I knew that I was unable to support my family (with a working partner..) and I was forced to change direction. The were numerous rewards in working remote locums. But the recompense for missing every significant family event, sleeping in the cheapest room in town, driving a 18 year old car (I still do..) and being unable to meet basic requirements was not there. The current rates, though recently ‘blipping’ higher still are insufficient to compensate for the vagrant lifestyle which comes with being a country locum.
        Try booking a city plasterer to work on your extension. He/she won’t be charging you $40 and hour plus expenses…..

  3. Jarrod

    I own a pharmacy in a capital city, and there seem to be very few locums left. With the appalling job prospects in pharmacy, and storm clouds on the horizon all the time, a lot have probably moved out of pharmacy, and just stay registered as a backup. The Board crows about the 30 000 pharmacists on its register (and paying $9 million per annum in registration fees) but this does not tell the true story.

    • Andrew

      It’s approaching GAMSAT season – you’d find most locums at Flemington on exam day.

      Poor kids.

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