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100-hour pharmacy hatches and tannoys branded ‘a disgrace’

Practice Pharmacists have hit out at certain 100-hour pharmacies, which limit access outside standard opening hours, arguing that they are providing a "second-rate" service.

100-hour pharmacies are providing patients with a "second-rate" service by limiting access outside standard opening hours, pharmacists have argued.

Pharmacists hit out at the use of hatches and tannoy systems in certain 100-hour pharmacies, branding the practice a "disgrace" that would fail to meet commissioners' and patients' service expectations.

Pharmacies should remain fully open for the duration of the 100 hours and offer the whole range of services, said pharmacists

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The comments came as LPC secretaries reported a number of pharmacies limiting access in their areas, while one pharmacist claimed he had been refused entry into a Boots 100-hour pharmacy during opening hours.

Shabbir Damani, a pharmacist working in Cambridgeshire, said a Boots branch in Bolton would only speak to him through a tannoy system and denied him access to the pharmacy when he attempted to buy medicines at 8am on Christmas Eve. "At a time when the public will be utilising pharmacy the most, this is a real shame that a second-rate service is being provided," he argued.

Boots would not confirm the incident, but told C+D it used a hatch system for its 100-hour pharmacies outside standard hours "to ensure the safety of both our colleagues and customers". The multiple stressed that the branches still offered the full pharmacy dispensing services and advice at all opening times.

Under current regulations, pharmacies are allowed to provide services through a hatch on the condition that it is manned by a member of staff and the premises are visibly open, according to PSNC. Pharmacists must also allow patients to enter the premises if needed.

But some pharmacists said the pharmacies should remain fully open for the duration of the opening hours. Limiting access at certain times was "nothing short of a disgrace", English Pharmacy Board member and contractor Sid Dajani told C+D.

Closing the doors to the pharmacy could deter patients from asking from a private consultation, he said.

"A lot of the time you need the consultation room and it's very difficult through a hatch system to provide that privacy," Mr Dajani stressed. "It's not really giving patients an option [of a private consultation] – it's giving them the option to inconvenience the pharmacist."

North-East London LPC secretary Hemant Patel said he had heard of a pharmacy in his area using a hatch system, but urged businesses to end the practice "as soon as possible". "The whole range of services should be provided during opening hours because that's the expectation of commissioners and the public," he told C+D.

Liverpool LPC secretary Jeremy Clitherow also reported the use of shutters and hatches in his area, and said he had needed to remind 100-hour pharmacies in the area that they must be visibly open.

Your Shout

Pharmacists shared their experience of 100-hour businesses on Twitter:

@CandDEmma Can 100-hour pharmacies get away with only providing services through a hatch at certain times? Getting quite a few reports of this...

@ukpharmacist In a past life I wrote an SOP for safety for an early Boots 100-hour with a hatch. We still invited the punters in...

‏@tablet_girl A pharmacy I locumed for in Leeds (independent) does this after midnight.

‏@Xrayser There's a 100-hour near us that just has a bell - ring it at night and the pharmacist gets up from his bed to answer the door..!

@pillmanuk My local 100-hour closes the gates to the car park and people have to walk to be served in a booth and hatch.

What do you think of 100-hour pharmacies using the hatch system?

Comment below or email us at [email protected] You can also find C+D on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook


Brian Austen, Senior Management

100 hour pharmacies must be able to provide access to all their commissioned services (inside the premises) during the 100 hours that they are open.
If staffing levels and the configuration of the pharmacy make this impossible the regulatory authorities should do something about it.
The same standards should apply to all pharmacies.
I wonder if new premises standards will be enforced?
There needs to be better monitoring of all pharmacies. My personal opinion is that most PCTs failed in adequately monitoring pharmacies. I hope their replacement does a better job.

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

How many would want to open the door late at night ? Trading 100 hours has certain staff overheads and -that is why we have this.

Some one coined the phrase of "Mac Pharmacy" some time ago in the RPSGB journal. They were right!

Scripts are going to increase in volume and settlement won't match it. Government is looking for even more effiency. This means wage cuts and understaffing.

Maybe they will be getting live delivery from the supermarkets or Amazon in years to come.

Think that unlikely..........!

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

I think Boots operates its 100 hours effectively and professionally. I know patients at 100 hours get invited in for EHC and supervised methadone and there is a balance of patient and staff safety to be taken into consideration with cost effective operational issues. Sounds as this complaint could be more like entrapment...

Nick Hunter, Community pharmacist

I know many 100 hours who don't provide enhanced or advanced services out of core hours when dispensing through the hatch, but no idea how they get away with it with the PCTs - probably no one left to care let alone monitor!
What disturbs me most is supervised consumption through the hatch following a conversation with a young pharmacist who was concerned about clients just leaving with their dose or blatantly handing it to someone else instead of taking it under supervision. I had to remind him of his professional and legal obligations, but he felt so pressured by the company he was working for such that he was not able to influence any change to the situation. I suggested he look out the whistle blowing policy.

THB _B, Community pharmacist

As long as the services are provided, pharmacists are free to provide them in the manner they choose. I am sure my colleagues are more than capable of deciding if someone would like a private consultation and letting them in.

I have been into standard pharmacies which don't have adequate consultation facilities, so lets not blow this out of proportion. Pharmacists and pharmacy staff have a right to security so if they feel safer with the door shut - so be it. I wonder that all these people would say if one of our colleagues was attacked?

I know that having a go at 100 hour pharmacies is all the rage at the moment, but lets not forget that when the standard hours pharmacy is closed, it is out colleagues in 100 hour pharmacies that continue to provide pharmacy services to the public, late into the night, We should recognise them for that.

Pro Re Nata, Community pharmacist

the americaniZation of england...all towns homogenous...there is no population need for a pharmacy to be sited in a retail park

Pro Re Nata, Community pharmacist

100hr/retail park pharmacies...the demise of community pharmacy...burgers n chips!

Pillman Forever, Community pharmacist

Can't have their door open at 8am!, don't imagine that when they applied to the nhs for their 100 hour contract they would have said we will be open for 100 hours.......but our doors won't be open during the full 100 core hours!!, well if your the biggest pharmacy group in the country, no wonder you can get away with anything, looks like they treat their patients as poorly as they do their pharmacist (ref reduction in hourly pay rates esp Sundays). Just imagine if you wanted some medication for piles ......on the large speaker coming back from the pharmacy team " WOULD YOU LIKE CREAM, OINTMENT OR SUPPOSITORIES FOR YOUR PILES", just when you thought things where bad enough you have now been embarrassed publicly, for trying to help much for information governance and patient confidentiality, well I suppose the advantage points could be considered compensation!!!

Super Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Not backing either side of the discussion as both have valid points, but ultimately in this day & age safety is paramount & I know a lot of such pharmacies would only have a pharmacist & a 'shelf-stacker' at that time of night & can be located in out of town shopping malls where they'll be the only outlet open after 7-8pm.

I used to work in a 100 hr pharmacy on the edge of a city centre & despite the area having decent car traffic passing through it still felt unsafe & deserted at times, yet with still had full access to the premises from two doors & minimal staffing - how we never got robbed, I have no idea!!

BL E, Primary care pharmacist

It's a difficult one. We have one in place (the rest of the store closes an hour before the pharmacy) and it works reasonably well for the final hour as customers tend to be few and far between. However, having recently done an hour's rota over the holiday period with a queue of about thirty people waiting to hand in prescriptions it became quite obvious that the system is far from ideal in terms of privacy and comfort for the patient. Also, with only two of us working in the store it would have been impractical to let people in as there's no way we could have policed what they were up to away from the pharmacy and potentially our safety could have been at risk.

Martin Palmer, Community pharmacist

To me it is strange that this has been raised now as I live and work in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and there are at least three Boots midnight pharmacies within this area, all set up for several years now! I assume that these have all been approved by the PCTs and the PSNC as being suitable otherwise Boots and other pharmacies with similar access points would not have gone to the expense of setting them up. Maybe Cambridgeshire does not have any pharmacies like this and this is why the original pharmacist found the system strange - I assume he still had his query dealt with professionally.

I have worked many times in these branches (as a locum) and I personally have never had a query that required privacy of the sort mentioned but if necessary I could have let someone in to talk privately with them. 90% of the time, the service provided is to dispense out of hours Rx, the other 10% tends to be people passing by who decide that they 'absolutely must, at 11pm' buy a bottle of Night Nurse! I have never had anyone want to discuss EHC with me for instance - if a lady needed it, she would be offered the opportunity to come inside to discuss the supply.

I am 45 and lived at a time when all stores only opened between 9-6pm, closed on Sundays and if a patient needed an script dispensed urgently, the local police had a contact pharmacy who would open up their branch out of hours. Having these branches for urgent prescriptions and OTC medicines 'out of hours' is a major advance in serving the local population, in my opinion. I understand that some pharmacists might view this as not good enough, that patients should be able to get MURs/PGDs (not that pharmacies HAVE to offer these services, of course) etc but if you leave 'legal loopholes', commercial businesses will take advantage of them. Maybe the PSNC and other interested parties should review the current situation if they are unhappy with 'midnight pharmacies' only being open via a hatch for 25 hours a week - then again, they do have their front doors open for 75 hours...

Tom Jerry, Community pharmacist

however Boots does seem to conduct it service on the street and that cant be good for patients especially those re

Tom Jerry, Community pharmacist

I feel a sense of jeolosy or political spin from the comments made by Hemant Patel when does expectation by commisioners become a contractual requirement??? please elaborate or direct me appropriately, also does he have any 100 Hrs pharmacy in his LPC and if so is this his personal view or the view of North East London LPC??

hmmm, interesting point that i'd never really thought about before.

I guess its a balance between patient care and pharmacist safety.

Alchemist 1948, Locum pharmacist

The one time I needed to use a pharmacy with a hatch, Boxing Day night, away at my inlaws with a sick child needing antibiotics I was ever so grateful but absolutely abysmal for any privacy standing in a cold deserted car park I am glad I didn't need to ask for EHC !!

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