We are back with our annual 2020 rates study! This time, we are going to look closely at the rates in 2020 and contrast with the average rates in 2018 for pharmacists. We will also provide an average locum pharmacist salary for 2020 based on our data.

There is a noticeable difference in the rates at the peak of the pandemic due to the surge in demand for pharmacists in comparison to 2018. We anticipate that this will continue in 2021 as more pharmacists will be needed to provide service to the UK public as we continue the fight against CV-19.

Through our analysis of 225,000 shifts in 2020, we looked at the top 50 cities in the UK based on population. But firstly, let's take a glance at the rates in 2018..

Don't have time to read on? No problem! Check out our short video below!


In 2018 we conducted a rates study which showed the highest locum pharmacy rate to be in Canterbury. The city topped the list at £25.83 per hour, followed by Aberdeen and St David’s (£24.44 and £24.31, respectively) - beating the UK average of £22.05 per hour by £3.78. The lowest averages in 2018 came from Northern Ireland. The five lowest averages came from Northern Ireland with Armagh coming in last at £15.25 per hour. The best city in Northern Ireland to work in 2018 was Bangor, with an average of £17.07.

Fast Forward to 2020 and rates have certainly improved in many areas across the UK. Our top highest average rate city was Plymouth which offered an average of £24.54 per hour. This was followed by Brighton at £24.42 and then Glasgow in Scotland which came in at an average of £22.75 per hour. Notably, cities that offered the highest average rates were primarily in the South of England and Scotland.

The top 5 lowest averages in 2020 came from a range of different places across the UK which is in contrast to 2018 where the lowest averages came from Northern Ireland. The three lowest average paying cities were Newcastle upon Tyne, which had an average rate of £18.20, Armagh city which had an average of £18.39 and Belfast which had an average of £18.72. The highest paying city in Northern Ireland to work is Lisburn which had an average rate of £18.67 p/h. An increase of £1.60 per hour since 2018.

Average Locum Pharmacist Salary

In 2018, the average locum pharmacist salary for locums in the UK was £42,424.20 per annum, while the highest of these came from Canterbury at £49,696.92 per annum. This is based on an average of 37 hours per week. The average salary in Armagh came in at £29,341.00 per annum. The top average from Northern Ireland was only 66% of Canterbury’s average, at £32,842.68.

For locums who work 37 hours a week, the average UK salary in 2020 is £45,194.76 per annum. An increase of £2,770.56 since 2018. The highest coming from Plymouth at £47,214.96 per annum. The lowest average salary came from Newcastle upon Tyne at £35,016.80 which is an increase of £3,386.24 since 2018. The top average salary in Northern Ireland is £36,113.48 which is a decrease from £39,288.08 in 2018.

Regional Average Locum Rates

The average rate across the UK was £20.50. In Northern Ireland it’s £18.35 per hour, in Scotland it’s £21.16 and in wales it’s £23.08. The top 10 highest average rates in England are Plymouth, Brighton, Exeter, Peterborough, Manchester, Bath, Bristol, Hull, Stoke on Trent and Southampton. Across the UK, the top 5 cities are Plymouth, Brighton, Glasgow, Exeter and Newport.

Regions 2020 Rates

Are you wondering what the average rate in your city is? Look no further! We have put together a table containing all the information you need! Find your city below!

City Average Rate
London £20.02
Manchester £20.56
Bath £20.33
Bristol £20.32
Liverpool £19.77
Birmingham £19.36
Leeds £19.56
Nottingham £18.80
Hull £20.20
Bradford £19.89
Brighton £24.42
Sheffeild £19.89
Leicester £19.70
Wakefield £19.90
Newcastle upon Tyne £18.20
Plymouth £24.54
Wolverhampton £19.07
Southampton £20.07
York £19.64
Derby £19.63
Stoke-on-Trent £20.12
Sunderland £18.18
Glouchester £19.90
Exeter £21.91
Cambridge £19.54
Lancaster £19.94
St Albans £19.88
Norwich £19.69
Peterborough £21.18
Belfast £18.72
Newry £16.62
Lisburn £18.67
Armagh £18.39
Edinburgh £19.30
Glasgow £22.75
Dundee £24.09
Perth £19.62
Stirling £20.20
Cardiff £21.46
Swansea £22.91
Newport £21.90

Factors that impact Rates

Based on our data, there are various factors that impact the shift rate and cause fluctuations:

  • Supply and demand - The amount of competition for a shift (often area based)
  • Day of shift - Weekend rates are higher
  • Time of shift - Late nights rates are higher
  • Holidays - Seasonality has a huge impact. EID is often the highest rate of the year
  • When the shift posted - If a shift is posted 3 months in advance it's generally for a standard rate, but emergencies (day/week of shift) are a much higher than average rate

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had an impact on rates as the UK average has decreased by £1.55 in under two years. With fewer shifts available there was more competition between locums leading to the drop in UK average rate.

Going forward, as vaccines need administering, rates could start to rise again in 2021 as demand for staff increases.

Thanks for reading, have a great day!
Locate a Locum Team