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Boots: Having a pharmacy technician in every branch is a 'necessity'

Boots pharmacy's Marc Donovan at the FIP Congress, Glasgow
Marc Donovan: Some pharmacists are nervous of a greater role for technicians

Boots sees it as a “necessity” to have a pharmacy technician working alongside a pharmacist in every branch, its chief pharmacist has told C+D.

The multiple has spent “the last few years” investing in its pharmacy technician workforce, to enable pharmacists to deliver more patient-facing care, Marc Donovan said yesterday (September 4).

Speaking exclusively to C+D after his session at the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP) Congress in Glasgow, Mr Donovan said: “We have to release capacity in community pharmacy – one way of doing that is to utilise community pharmacy technicians better.

“We believe that operationally our pharmacies run better [with a pharmacy technician] and that actually there is evidence to suggest they are safer,” he said.

“Our pharmacists are then more able to deliver the care they want off the back of [this],” Mr Donovan explained. “So pharmacy technicians running the dispensary and pharmacists delivering care is where we need to be.”

Some “nervous” of greater role for technicians

Mr Donovan admitted that parts of the sector are “nervous” about “the role that pharmacy technicians could potentially do in the future and whether or not that would encroach on the traditional aspects and roles of community pharmacy”.

However, “for pharmacists to be able to demonstrate more value, they have to be enabled to do so – and pharmacy technicians will have a role in doing that”.

Committed to a pharmacist in every pharmacy

Mr Donovan stressed that Boots is still “absolutely committed that we should have a pharmacist in every one of our pharmacies”. “Our patients expect that and that is the right thing to do,” he said.

“We also see that there are plenty of opportunities where our pharmacists can work in different areas,” he added, citing GP surgeries, care homes, hospitals and prison as examples.

“To change community pharmacy as a profession, we have to focus on the vast majority of our pharmacists and provide more opportunities for them,” he said.

Mr Donovan used his FIP session to stress the importance of the sector “evolving quickly” to meet the challenges of the future.

“Enablers”, such as “technology and changes in contractual frameworks”, will help the sector evolve and survive, Mr Donovan told C+D, but “empowering the pharmacy workforce…is perhaps going to be the hardest challenge”.

Do you think every pharmacy would benefit from a pharmacy technician?

Julie Friday, Accuracy checking technician

With over 2500 stores does this mean they will being employing over 2500 technicians because alot of technicians they already had have been pushed and forced out.

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Can somebody tell me what does a technician do differently to a dispenser? They both dispense. The only difference is that a technician gets paid more. Im my experience Ive found many dispensers much more helpful than registered technicians

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

This Donovan gentleman is definitley correct about pharmacists being 'nervous'......

Meera Sharma, Primary care pharmacist

Writing on the wall here as most posts have suggested , make sure you respond to this - the start of remote supervision consultation! Closes on Sept 11th


A LOCUM, Community pharmacist

any pharmacist who has worked for boots knows these technicians disappear when it gets busy and suddenly resurface just before break times and closing times , unless an area manager visit and then the award winning oscar performance 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Boots seem to have a lot of Pharmacist roles available judging from the adverts on this site


Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

If you can’t see what Boots and other multiples are trying to do, then you must be ignorant or thick. Take a look at the Government’s future stance to see what they want too. I  left Boots after more than a decade of service, to move into Pharma. Some of my more experienced colleagues have done the same, and many are desperate to get out. 

The NQ Pharmacists have no idea what’s coming. And all the remaining Com Pharms who are being sold the lie about the glory to become  a “clinal Pharm” (I’m an IP btw) are also part of the problem; they will also find out how “clinical pharmacists” are treated in primary care.

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

Can't speak for anyone else but I'm treated fairly well.... better than I ever was working for any multiple.

A Long Serving Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

There are not enough suitably qualified staff in every Boots pharmacy for a safe working environment already. The RP is pressurised to do so many services and also check most prescriptions (even when there is an ACT) that it is a disaster waiting to happen. Since the legal definition of a pharmacy is a premises where you can find a pharmacist, what will they call the pharmacies when there is no pharmacist? 

Saddened Old Timer, Community pharmacist

I'm pretty sure most Boots pharmacists will view this as Company Bull as currently they haven't got enough staff suitably trained to dispense a prescription or man the chemist counter !  

The ivory tower view from Nottingham must be lovely.


Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

I wouldn't be surprised at all if in the next few years, pharmacists will be allowed to be RP at 2-3 pharmacies located close to each other, provided the ones the pharmacist is not physically present at has a technician or ACT. Boots would love that.

Saddened Old Timer, Community pharmacist

Then we'll say - remember the days when pharmacists used to be called up to answer for their misdemeanours for getting caught trying to cover 2 pharmacies with one pharmacist. Scary future if one pharmacist is covering 10 .....

Then we'll say remember when we used to care about patient safety .......


Brian Perry, Locum pharmacist

Committed to having a pharmacist in every pharmacy ?

Yes, occasionally. They haven't stated "during all opening hours".

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

Enablers”, such as “technology and changes in contractual frameworks”, will help the sector evolve and survive, 

Clearly implying using digital technology for remote supervision, and covering multiple sites, and muliple tasks, such as visiting care homes, prisons & doctors surgery etc...

A Hussain, Senior Management

Dispensing Doctors don't have pharmacists.  I constantly wonder why all these patients I don't dispense for keep on ringing me for advice!

Saddened Old Timer, Community pharmacist

Dispensing doctors diagnose, prescribe, dispense and write death certificates . Not a lot of clinical views/checks within that process....

Peter Sainsburys, Community pharmacist

Seems like the posters on here got to the truth pretty quickly. Boots clearly thijnk very little of their pharmacists, look at the contempt shown towards them re: the PDA case. I'll bet they can't wait to get rid of them. No way are they going to just hire more technicians or spend money training them for no reason. There's definitely a plan here.

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Theyre preparing for remote supervision. Thinking about their own selfish pockets

Julie Friday, Accuracy checking technician

Why push and force experienced Reg Technicians out that were more than capable in their job role out when now they are saying they want technicians.

Meera Sharma, Primary care pharmacist

Beacuse trainee techs are way cheaper than the experienced ones they got rid of!

Julie Friday, Accuracy checking technician

Dedication, loyalty and experience doesn't count for anything then. What a terrible way to treat people especially after 33 years service.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Community Pharmacy summed up.

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

I'd agree with the previous poster.....they are planning ahead to run their pharmacies without one!

I wonder what happens with all the queries the Pharmacists currently get from their technicians? What about all the queries from patients?

I say good luck to these technicians who want this.....presumably they'll be getting paid even less than the current Pharmacists....which is a pittance when you consider the responsibilities they have!


Meera Sharma, Primary care pharmacist

Rich comments coming from a company that can't even commit to pharmacists having a say in anything (PDA Boots Pharmacists saga!), and having workpressured pharmacists (and for which the company doesn't want to acknowledge). So, if techs are being introduced, what additional things are you expecting your pharmacists to do?? They are juggling enough as it is - or is this me being cynical?!!

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

They want to be able to run without one of course!  Why else would the Rebalancing Board have discussed change of legislation to allow "registered pharmacy professional" being responsible for a pharmacy instead of a pharmacist?

Caroline Jones, Community pharmacist

There's loads of Pharmacists qualifying now, there is no shortage.....when I speak to my other half about the state of pharmacy - he'll say 'why don't they just go and do a pharmacy degree'?........

Saddened Old Timer, Community pharmacist

This isn't true of the whole country though.There may be plenty of pharmacists in cities and the vicinity of pharmacy schools but there are areas  across the UK that have traditionally struggled to recruit and continue to do so. 

Honest- Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I would like to see this 'evidence' suggesting a technician Is safer? As in safer than a pharmacist or makes the process safer? Either way evidence would be great. Also who conducted the study? Was it boots? Aaahhh I see how this game is being played.

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

Of course every pharmacy must have a technician.  Who else will Dr Ridge have to supervise them once community pharmacists are made extinct?!

Every pharmacy needs sufficient qualified staff to operate in a safe and robust manner. Rather than ask Do you think every pharmacy would benefit from a pharmacy technician? a better question to ask is do you think your Boots pharmacy is understaffed to ensure safe clinical standards are met?

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