What’s your career background?
I graduated two years ago with a masters in pharmacy from University College London and went on to do my pre-registration training at a local community pharmacy.
After passing my exams, I was so excited to start locuming. I still remember the feeling of nervousness and excitement of my first day knowing that no-one will be there to watch over me. After locuming for a few months, I started up my own pharmacy which operates in the private healthcare industry.
I also currently locum during weekends and evenings. It’s been a great start to my career in pharmacy, I’ve met the most amazing people in the process and made the most of the opportunities. I’m confident there’s a lot more to come and I’m really excited for the future of pharmacy.
What gave you the idea for your app?
It was a combination of a few things. When I first started locuming there were so many different agencies all asking to meet different criteria, I just kept thinking there must be an easier way; until The Locum App, there wasn’t.
I also visited the Pharmacy Show last year, I met some helpful people and saw some really interesting stands. I noticed that people were still asking for business cards, with the technology available now, I was surprised.
Lastly, being a superintended myself I understand the difficulty pharmacy owners face financially and also the difficulties in finding the right staff to cover your business.
When using The Locum App, you can see how the app can be used to overcome these and more.
What does the app do?
The app can be used for posting and applying for locum jobs. We’ve made it so easy to use: a pharmacy can sign up to the app and post a job within minutes; they can manage multiple branches which makes it easier for small independents and larger chains; manage the locums they have booked; and build their profile.
Pharmacists can use the app to apply for multiple jobs in once place with just a single click; they can promote their services and accreditation’s to multiple employers; and build their reviews to help them get selected for jobs. Imagine a LinkedIn profile for pharmacists.
We’ve included a QR scanner so you can quickly add connections. Instead of visiting your local pharmacy and giving a business card for locum work, it would be as simple as asking if they have the locum app and connecting with them.
We’ll be adding some exciting features in new releases to make the app appeal to all pharmacists, not just locums. I believe, especially with all the changes in the industry, it’s so important for everyone in the profession to come together.
Is it free to download?
Yes, The Locum App is free to download and free to use. We want to get as many pharmacists and pharmacies using it as possible.
What’s in it for you?
I started the app so I could use it myself to apply for jobs and have fun in the process. I soon realised that bringing everyone in pharmacy together will stop this divide and conflict between business owners, locums, community pharmacies, hospital pharmacies. I truly believe together we can positively shape the future of pharmacy in the UK.
What is your hope for the app?
We want the app to bring together pharmacist in the UK. By utilising proven technology, the app will cut down locum agencies charging high premiums for their services. This in turn will benefit pharmacists as we hope to see this saving passed on to locums.
There are quite a few locum agencies, where does the app sit in this market?
Not only are there so many different agencies there are also Facebook, Telegram and WhatsApp groups all posting locum jobs. This divide is causing some of the issues we’re facing within the industry.
Although some of the Facebook groups want to bring together locums, it’s a very small-scale as larger chains are less likely to use them to advertise jobs. The Locum App has been developed by using the positives of each of the different agencies and groups to make one simple cost-effective platform.
Are there too many locums at the moment and not enough work?
No, I’ve heard a lot of people say there is an over-supply of pharmacists but I think there is an underuse. This was proved recently by NHS investment into pharmacies working at GP practices. There are some areas of the country which are more competitive than other but there are also a lot more opportunities yet to be explored.
In fact, I’ve been working with other healthcare professionals to explore new roles which exposes the pharmacists skill sets to the private sector; I’m excited for some of these jobs to be advertised on The Locum App.
What’s your take on locum rates?
There are two ways to look at the issues we’re facing with locum rates right now. You have the business aspect which looks at cost-saving within pharmacies, especially with the NHS funding cuts.
However, I don’t believe reducing rates is the answer, it demotivates pharmacists especially with the extra pressure to conduct advanced services. I think having a cost-effective platform that business owners can use to post jobs and find locums would allow them to pass on the savings to pharmacists.
One of the key features we’re looking to implement will ensure that all jobs posted will achieve a respectable minimum rate. Other agencies have received some negative feedback recently for allowing jobs to be posted for considerably lower than this.
How can locums compete in this environment to ensure they get work?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was to work hard. When I first started I found it difficult to find shifts within London and I had to commute over an hour. After more experience and references from other pharmacies, I started getting more opportunities and I was offered regular shifts. I enjoy working and being able to help patients in the community, I think that helped a lot.
Are you worried about the future of community pharmacy?
No I’m not, community pharmacies are a key pillar in the NHS and a backbone to primary care. Pharmacies play a vital role in the community and there is a clear shift in funding which suggests new opportunities for community pharmacies. NHS pay has shifted from dispensing to a more service orientated payment structure.
With the current crises ongoing with A&E and long waiting times for surgeries, I believe we could start to see opportunities for community pharmacists to be able to prescribe independently allowing them to diagnose and treat patients in the community without the need to block up GP phone lines, wait weeks for an appointment or hours at A&E.