Once you have sent off your GPhC applications, you can only practice after your name appears on the register.
In the meantime:
1) Pass the MUR accreditation from Medway. CPPE is also fine but takes longer.
2) Create your CPPE account if you haven’t done so already. Complete the Repeat Dispensing e-learning, the Safeguarding vulnerable adults and children Level 2 e-assessments and summary care records. This may take a few attempts to pass the assessment first time around so do this as early as possible as you most pharmacies will not book you as a locum if you don’t have these accreditations.
3) Complete the self-assessment New Medicines Service (NMS) form (read, learn then click accept and you’ll get a certificate) at a minimum.
4) Become a Dementia Friend as this has been a requirement over the past year due to Quality Payment scheme for community pharmacies – it’s free to become one so go to the Dementia Friend’s website.
5) Create a new email address which you use for locum work. It will save you a lot of hassle filtering the excess work emails with your personal ones.
6) Use a reputable locum agency and apply for DBS Enhanced Check including the annual automatic renewal service. You’ll get a certificate in the post which you can show a copy to any agencies or employers.
7) Obtain an NHS Smartcard, if you do not have one, then apply for locum access (all you need is a list of 5 pharmacies you have ever worked at. This may include pharmacies from university placements, voluntary work and different Pre-reg branches (make a list of five including the company name and addresses) and get a sponsor letter from two of those pharmacies which states they know you and they trust you to have locum access. Provide this to your local smartcard team and they’ll add on locum access to your card. Also, ensure you have access to SCR (summary care records) with your smart card.
8) Try get hold of a good accountant and make a Ltd company for yourself if you’re going to become a full-time locum. Once you have a Ltd company, go to your bank and make an appointment. Ask to open a business bank account. Provide your Ltd company certificate etc. This will now be the bank account which you will be to paid to. Speak to your accountant how you can pay yourself a wage each month and how to handle expenses such as fuel. They will explain how all these expenses you pay to GPhC, agencies, DBS, fuel costs etc. can be claimed back for tax so keep all your receipts safe. Ask the admins of The Pharmacist Cooperative as they have a panel of accountants that specialise in doing locum accounts and they take regular feedbacks to ensure the accountants are giving a good level of service and are reasonably priced. The accountants on their panel charge between £330 to £550 for ltd company accounts so if you’re being quoted anything higher then it’s worth contacting their accountants. You can email them at email@example.com and ask for the contact numbers.
9) Apply to all major pharmacy companies direct first, eg, Lloyds, Boots, Cohens, Day Lewis, Tesco, Asda and small chain independents in your area.
10) Once you have a GPhC number, apply to locum agencies and provide all details they ask for. You will notice some agencies are not great for your area, you can still apply to them as now and then a few times in the year they will have some nice shifts which you can take advantage of! Ask on the Telegram groups which agencies to apply and/or avoid.
11) Some multiples and supermarket pharmacies have their own online portals (Venloc being the most popular choice) where you can see different stores/branches and apply for shifts – AVOID THIS! You need to wait for the co-ordinators to email you shifts and negotiate a rate with them. Simple emails are fine and some prefer to phone. Always always ask for FM= full mileage.
12) For indemnity insurance, usually you should have your pre-reg insurance still running, those companies offer free insurance for 3 months, so ask them and take that,then around 3 months later pay for the annual indemnity insurance. PDA is recommended by most pharmacists.
13) During summer rates are usually higher and also very easy if you are flexible and can travel around. There is less locum work between Oct to early Dec and also mid Jan-March. Easter Hols, Bank Holidays are usually much higher due to higher demand, so don’t accept advance booking too early as employers will try to get you on the cheap and booking you at the standard rate in advance for Easter for example so stay sharp, pay attention and don’t get caught out! Try keep on top of religious festivals such as Eid or Christmas Days and ask around what dates this may occur on – these can go up really high!
14) Any bookings made where the shift starts in less than 24 hours are usually treated as an emergency and tend to be higher than the standard rate. Working within main cities can be tricky for a good rate. Be prepared to take the day off if offered less than what you are willing to work for.
15) If you have already been booked as a locum and found another pharmacy is offering higher rates or you did not realise the date booked is one of the key holiday periods, then do NOT cancel that shift as it is unethical and goes against GPhC standards as a professional pharmacist. Use that knowledge to learn your lesson for next time and be organised.
16) Don’t let anyone tell you, “you deserve less” wage/rate to start with as you are a newly qualified Pharmacist. You deserve the same amount as the responsibility and risk of being an RP is the same! For those looking at fixed employment get in touch with other Pharmacists on the Pharmacist Cooperative Telegram Network as some are on £50-55k+ annually for 40-45 hours during their first year as a newly qualified pharmacist. It is all possible!
17) Some multiples will try to employ ex- Pre-Reg pharmacists to become reliefs on the cheap with them to avoid paying locum fees in the guise of regular work. It really is NOT worth it. There are ex-reliefs on this group who left a few months into their role due to poor wages and unexpected increased target pressures, the same as a Pharmacy Manager that the NQ pharmacist may not be ready for that responsibility for low salary. Don’t fall for their incentives of free courses paid for etc. You have worked so hard for all these years, you deserve to be treated and paid better!
18) On your big day, working as a Pharmacist it may be scary but know you have plenty of help around you. Usually, people work at their pre-Reg store for the first few shifts but if not, there is nothing to worry about. Walk in, introduce yourself, sign in the RP log if everything is ok with you and proudly put up your RP notice. (Google RP notice and you can make it on the GPhC website). Notice how it says “the RP is in charge for this pharmacy” so be proud! Don’t let anyone belittle you. You got this! There are good WhatsApp and the Pharmacist Cooperative Telegram groups that can give real-time advice if you are stuck but remember to also use your professional judgment as you are ultimately responsible for your own action whatever you choose to do.
19) Now that you’re a pharmacist, your job is no longer to dispense! Most SOP’s state self-checking is not allowed anyway. Therefore, let the dispensers dispense and you as the pharmacist do the all-important final check. Some pharmacies may ask you to help print, dispense, label etc. Kindly refuse and step back. If they need more dispensers, they can contact the managers and/or superintendents. The number of pharmacists who try to get stuck into working tills, printing, labelling, dispensing, putting away stock, selling meal deals, filing all Rx’s is ridiculous.
Even if you had seen your pre-reg tutors do this, just know it is time for a change. No one will suddenly help you during MURs, patient consultations, Rx checking etc so you do your work and let other staff do theirs. Just because you have nothing to do for a few minutes it’s a good time to take a breather – you will need it. Granted, you can kindly help if the store is extremely quiet out of goodwill but never make this into a habit. If the store is busy do not be shy to increase waiting times for yours and your patient safety.
20) Do NOT sign on as the RP at 7am if you’re not physically at the Pharmacy til 9am to allow dispensing staff to prepare meds etc. Do not let multiples take advantage of you as a NQ pharmacist if you are employed by them and read all the terms and conditions before you sign the contract.
21) As a locum, ask if the pharmacy is closed for lunch or not. If they are closed for lunch, then sign out as the RP. Signed out means that there is no RP at all, staff can’t label, dispense or even pick a box off the shelf. No selling of GSL, P medicines, giving advice or handing out any bags whatsoever.
If the pharmacy expects you to open during the lunch break, make sure you have a mental break as you are still the RP and expect to get paid as so, regardless if the pharmacy has a quiet period during that time. You’re still the RP, you need to remain contactable and return to the premises promptly when necessary.
Written by an experienced guest community pharmacist blogger