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The Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) says the data from the ‘Locate a Locum’s annual report’ has revealed that the average locum rate rose by 124 per cent in Scotland in 2021 compared to the previous year and that the trend seems to have continued since.

According to the report, in Scotland, the average rate has risen from £20.08 to £44.89 which is a massive £24.81 difference.

This was in response to the pharmacists Defence Association (PDA)’s statement on 15 times more closure of pharmacy in Scotland by a CCA member.

“This clearly demonstrates that demand for pharmacists in Scotland is outstripping supply,” said the association.

Explaining further, it said: “Our members have been serving Scottish communities and patients without issue for decades. Recent pressures, however, are unprecedented. Workforce challenges are affecting all parts of healthcare across the UK – and community pharmacy is no different. Pharmacists remain on the Home Office’s shortage occupation list for this reason.”

Last week, based on the data from NHS health boards in Scotland, PDA said: “The data evidences that there were actually 1,625 reported closures of CCA member pharmacies in Scotland over that period. That means if a patients’ local pharmacy was operated by a CCA member it was more than 15 times as likely to be closed to patients for at least part of the day, than if their local pharmacy owner was a non-CCA member.”

“It is important to note that while all CCA members are headquartered in England, this data relates to Scotland only and so cannot be blamed on poor funding or previous bad policy decisions provided by NHS England. This information relates only to Scotland’s communities which are covered by the separate contract funded by Scotland’s taxpayers,” it stressed.

“At the February 2022 APPG Pharmacy session, the PDA heard first-hand about the extraordinary lengths and different actions that businesses of all sizes are taking to maintain patient access. The current situation is unsustainable,” said CCA.

The association added that its members have been affected by unplanned sickness, including two Covid surges in January and April 2022, and holiday periods just like other parts of the sector. “These closures may reflect very small parts of the opening day, as companies try tirelessly to plug gaps at short notice.”

“It is worth remembering that community pharmacies do not earn income if they do not open. Closures are an absolute last resort, and our members are working extraordinarily hard to ensure patient access”.

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