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Boots to offer its pre-regs 'assertiveness and resilience' training

Marc Donovan: Boots is working with Pharmacist Support to launch the training early next year
Marc Donovan: Boots is working with Pharmacist Support to launch the training early next year

Boots will provide “resilience and assertiveness training” to all of its pre-registration trainees, it has announced.

The multiple has enlisted charity Pharmacist Support to launch the training “in early 2018”, it told C+D yesterday (December 5).

The support offered to Boots pharmacists has come under scrutiny following criticism from MPs during a parliamentary debate in October about Alison Stamps, a Boots pharmacist working in County Durham, who took her own life in May 2015.

C+D reported in October that Boots has worked with Pharmacist Support “for a number of years” – including delivering wellbeing training videos to all 6,500 of its pharmacists in 2016 (see below for ways to contact Pharmacist Support).

Challenges around mental health and wellbeing

Boots chief pharmacist Marc Donovan attended a Pharmacist Support workshop last week (November 30) – along with representatives from Lloydspharmacy, Well and Day Lewis – to give senior executives a taster session of the assertiveness and time-management training the charity offers.

Mr Donovan told C+D yesterday (December 5) that Boots “recognised for some time the challenges faced in the UK around mental health and wellbeing”.

“We regularly review the content of our wellbeing sessions and we will be looking to include resilience and assertiveness going forwards,” Mr Donovan said.

“These topics will be included in our wellbeing workshops for all our new pre-registration pharmacists, which will take place in early 2018.”

Strengthening the mental health training the company offers its pre-reg trainees will play “an important part in our learning and development programme for our pharmacists”, he added.

Pharmacist Support now offers three new training sessions – on assertiveness, stress management and building resilience, and time management – as well as their "introduction to wellbeing" workshop, to groups of 15 or more pharmacists.

For more information and for support and advice around mental health and wellbeing, visit the Pharmacist Support website here. For specific stress and wellbeing support, contact the charity’s ‘Listening Friends’ scheme here.

What training do you offer your pre-reg trainees?

James Mac, Community pharmacist

I was a pharmacist for about 8 years, many of those as a b**ts man, couldn't take it anymore, my CV really fits nothing else so I haven't been able to get a decent gig since. Be warned guys.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Usual from a company that treats its employees with utter contempt. Just when you think that this so called profession cannot get any worse it somehow manages to sink even lower. How anyone still wants to take a degree in pharmacy amazes me. If I had my time over again I would rather be a train driver. Better pay and job security, fewer hours and a locked steel door between yourself and the general public,

***This comment has been edited in line with C+D's community principles.***

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

The question is why does Mr Waldron continues to provide a platform for this snakey advertising?

D Edwards, Hospital pharmacist

With respect to funeral directors, I’m not sure they have trays, 100 eps, inspector visits, phone queries, addicts,  staff demands, area manager demands, targets and 15 people waiting all at the same time. It’s an absolute nightmare out there in community pharmacy, a dreadful and depressing slog of a career with the promise of any more clinical developments quickly checked when you remember you will do them in addition to your current 20 hours worth of work you squeeze in to a 9 hour, break free day. 

I’m sorry, but if you can get away, get away. Boots are some of the worst offenders and surely have a lot of pharmacists mental health in tatters. What a legacy. You need to make fundamental changes to how you treat us, before any sound bites about wellbeing courses. Yes, it’ll be do the course and straight back to work and business as usual. 

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist


Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Nice advert. Editor, how is that letter about work conditions coming along??

Dave Downham, Manager

I disagree - an article like this is akin to a state visit from Donald Trump as it gives an opportunity for a true out-pouring of scorn, ridicule and disgust.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Perhaps C&D could write a letter expressing their concern.....

PoPeYe- Popeys Car Wash, Community pharmacist

A plaster to cover an infected open wound. Pharmacists had the assertiveness card taken away from them years ago, at least when it comes to the ability to change workplace conditions.

What training do you offer your pre-reg trainees?

What kind of lame, limited respondant question is this to offer at the end of the article? How many replies will be on-topic?

People may be more inclined to talk about morale and why stunts such as this are thought of as necessary when they really shouldn't be.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Sorry, forgot to add - Allow them to enlist with a union who understands their working plight/conditions i.e. PDA, as opposed to putting up such a fight!

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Rather than offering assertiveness and resilience training, try the following:

- Sort out your target driven culture

- Give the pharmacists a proper break (not the "paper noted" 20 mins, which in reality is 10mins, if you're lucky!)

- Give them support staff to manage the pharmacy workload that is constantly increasing

- Treat them & pay them as respected, healthcare professionals

That might work a lot more than attending a training session!

Concerned Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

There wouldn't be such a need for assertiveness and resilience if the multiples staffed their stores adequately, the area managers stopped bullying, and the branch staff were free to provide great service to patients.

Corporate greed is the main cause of stress and lack of resilience. Fear following bullying is draining assertiveness.

Mr Donovon should recognise the cause rather than proposing sticking plasters.


Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

They could but then that would not be community pharmacy.

Rubicon Mango, Academic pharmacist

Most Pharmacists I have spoken to in the community sector is suffering with a form of depression. Its really a sad state of affairs when I listen to the working conditions, the regulations and responsibilty placed on them. This article just kicks the can further down the road. How many pharmacists have to suffer a breakdown before anything is done. Am sorry but dancing around the bush having meetings to raise awareness will not do anything, there needs to be a system overchange from the gphc, nhs, dh and the multiples. Working conditions need to improve and also, give your pharmacist a proper break. Close the pharmacy for an hour!

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

This isn’t France. The idea of having lunch for the simple enjoyment of food and drink and a deserved period of quiet contemplation, is not something we comprehend in this country. 

Just force some awful sandwich down your throat and prepare for the next onslaught of impatient and demanding consumers. 

O J, Community pharmacist

Pharmacies and Petrol stations don't close.

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Or funeral directors and that's the direction of travel for us if we are not careful.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Funeral directors command vastly more respect.

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Check out a salary for a embalmer !

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