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Boots reveals plans for pharmacy technician ‘development programme’

Boots has revealed that it is considering launching a “development programme” for pharmacy technicians to “free up pharmacist capacity”.

Boots revealed that it has a working group looking at providing further “support” to pharmacy technicians, in a joint statement detailing the minutes of a meeting between the multiple and the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) this week (April 9).

This includes “how to identify which stores would benefit from them” and the possible launch of a “development programme” for the group, said one learning and development senior manager at Boots.

Read more: PDA airs ‘role substitution’ fears amid pharmacy technician reforms

He also told Boots and the PDA’s joint consultative committee (JCC) that the multiple wants to “free up pharmacist capacity” by “working on the evolution of the capability” of the pharmacy support team at a February 7 meeting held at the Boots Nottingham support office.

It comes after the PDA this week announced that it will submit a motion to a group of Scottish trade unionists that "underqualified staff" should not be pressured to take on responsibilities for which they are not adequately trained.

Read more: PDA: Pharmacy technician qualification levels ‘too low’ to handle PGDs

According to the joint statement, the JCC is “not a negotiating forum” but instead deals with “matters for consultation on a collective basis” while negotiated issues like pay are dealt with at the annually held joint negotiating body (JNB).

It said that the “positive and constructive” meeting was attended by PDA representatives and Boots senior leadership and its HR teams.

 

Pharmacy First pressures

 

But PDA representatives “raised concerns” about pharmacist and pharmacy team training, according to the statement.

And they mentioned that Boots’ publication of performance reports related to Pharmacy First had an “impact on mental health”, it said.

Read more: Locum rate drop reflects latest in real-terms 15-year ‘pay cut’, says PDA

A Boots director responded that the reports were used to “identify any additional resources needed” but said that reporting should be “appropriate” and that any “pressure being placed on pharmacists to hit targets should be raised”.

He added that the Boots teams had done “a great job” readying for the launch of Pharmacy First. 

 

Locum use down

 

Meanwhile, another Boots director said the multiple’s use of locum pharmacists has dropped year-on-year, according to the meeting minutes.

She said that a “key” action taken as a result was to train retail customer advisors on the multiple’s “healthcare programme”, with pharmacy technicians supervising this training to “alleviate pressure on pharmacists”.

She added that the multiple had hired 156 pharmacists to new roles since November 2023.

 

One million flu jabs 

 

Boots’ pharmacy services senior manager “extended thanks” to the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians that had helped the country's largest multiple to provide “over one million” flu vaccines in the most recent flu season. 

He told the JCC that in the season’s eight-week peak, Boots had delivered more than 800,000 jabs.

He added that Boots was “considering the impact that Pharmacy First will have on the provision of vaccines” next season.

Read more: Boots orders HQ staff to return to office full-time

Boots’ safety partner meanwhile told the JCC that the last quarter had seen fewer accidents in the workplace compared to the previous year, noting in particular “fewer needlestick injuries”.

In March, Boots announced that it was asking its head office staff to stop working from home from September unless they have “personal or business reasons” to do so. Boots said of the move that it “really [values] the team spirit that comes with being together in person”.

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