Layer 1

Answered: What can you do when you can’t fill pharmacy positions?

Do you have to leave roles empty if you can't find people to fill them?

Did you have enough HR knowledge to correctly answer this workplace dilemma?

You are struggling to recruit staff for your pharmacy. You need a pharmacist, a dispensary assistant and a manager for the sales team.

The right people do not seem to be available, and you feel like you have exhausted all recruitment avenues. Is there anything else you can do?


Is there anything else you can do when you can’t find pharmacy staff to fill positions?
Yes, there are ways other than recruitment to fill roles
No, you must leave the positions empty
Total votes: 50


You are not alone with your recruitment problems. Having insufficient staff for the safe provision of services was the third most commonly failed standard in pharmacy inspections in early 2018, according to the General Pharmaceutical Council.

Getting the right people with the right skills is not easy. The uncertainty around Brexit, which the National Pharmacy Association believes could make pharmacist recruitment processes harder, may continue to adversely affect the recruitment situation.

You say you have looked at all the recruitment avenues for the three roles you need. But how about not recruiting at all, and instead upskilling your staff?

It is not unheard of for technicians to make the leap to qualifying as pharmacists, although admittedly it is not easy because of the need for an MPharm degree. Going back to education for five years might be a difficult sell.

Nevertheless, it might be worth having the discussion with ambitious members of staff as a long-term plan. Could they study and work at the same time? Could you contribute to their fees?

Where you might have more luck is with the other vacant roles: the dispensary assistant and manager. Candidates for these roles might already be among your workforce, looking for an opportunity to progress.

With a little training and mentoring, not only would you have the properly qualified people for the job, but two people who feel that you care about their career progression. This will lead to more satisfaction at work, which generally means they will be more productive.

Getting these two roles filled from within the organisation could then leave you free to focus your recruitment efforts on the pharmacist role.

There is no one solution to your problem, but it is clearly important to think broadly when considering recruitment and succession planning. If you view your current staff as people who can be developed, rather than a static workforce, you may be able to turn your dilemma into an opportunity.

Find the latest pharmacy jobs on the C+D Jobs website

This HR dilemma was originally posted on the Accord Academy website, part of Accord Healthcare Ltd

For adverse event and privacy policy click here. Adverse events* should be reported. Reporting forms and information can be found at

Adverse events should also be reported to Accord on 01271 385257.

* "Patient safety is Accord's primary concern and we encourage healthcare professionals and patients to report any adverse event which may occur in relation to an Accord product. An adverse event includes reports of any side effect, product misuse, abuse or overdose, including inappropriate use by children or women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. It also includes reports of a product that was used for something other than the intended purpose or was ineffective, or was given with another medicine. Complaints relating to the product can also be reported."

Have you faced recruitment challenges in your pharmacy?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I recommend to everyone joining the Union these days, you need the protection for the current upcoming storm.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Something I recently read was that there is no reason to hide one's salaries. It's a strange taboo which only benefits your employer by keeping. 

Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

What kind of person actually wants to work in a pharmacy these days? Due to all the cuts, many pharmacies are operating with less than skeleton staff, creating outrageous pressure and stress. Add to that the training requirements, the responsibility of the job (selling an inappropriate OTC medicine, or giving out the wrong Rx - kiss goodbye to your job and feel guilty for a long time), and the pitiful, pitiful wages, who on Earth would do it?

Where I live Lidl pays better than a basic pharmacy assistant's job, with MUCH less hassle. I once worked with an assistant who only worked weekends to keep herself busy and gave out a script that had exactly the same name as the patient requested, but a different number on the same street. It became a fairly serious incident and she was very shaken up, ended up leaving. I can't imagine how awful that must have been.

The company blamed her, GPhC obviously not interested (she is not regsitered so nothing to do with us), she was made to feel like a criminal.

GPhC are only mandated to protect the public, apparently. Except only when they feel like it, and when they are sure they can act cheaply. So they never tackle the multiples.

C A, Community pharmacist

You make it sound like the GPhC only exist to protect the public from registrants...

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Increase salary

Better work environment

Respect for a professional

You're welcome.

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"""Is there anything else you can do?""""

With the kind of FUNDING available, either run it solo or think of selling off (may be even just close down)

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

How about addressing the root cause of these recruitment problems? More specifically stress and understaffed issues? If companies treat staff with respect, dignity and with reasonable resources and pay there won't be a problem. But at the current state of community sector, I may as well go stack shelves for Lidl if I were a dispenser. 

Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Very good response. However, the big chains just want every penny in income and savings they can get their grubby little hands on, so very unlikely they will invest in improving the workplace environment or reducing stress. Lidl pay quite well, in fact.

RS Pharmacist, Primary care pharmacist

What is the point of this article? The answer is obvious and stated nicely by my friend "community sector is hopeless" (what a great name).

Job of the week

Support Pharmacist
Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Heartl
up to £47,500 dependent on hours (30-40 hours flexible)