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‘Burnt out’ pharmacy teams react to Easter opening hours requirement

Pharmacies in England are required to be open from 2pm to 5pm on 10 April 2020 and 13 April 2020
Pharmacies in England are required to be open from 2pm to 5pm on 10 April 2020 and 13 April 2020

Pharmacies in England must open to the public for a few hours on Good Friday and Easter Monday – a decision that has been met with disappointment by the sector.

NHS England and NHS Improvement said last week (April 3) that, with agreement health secretary Matt Hancock, they “are requiring pharmacies in England to open from 2pm to 5pm on 10 April 2020 and 13 April 2020”.

The commissioning body has powers to enforce this measure under the National Health Service (Amendments Relating to the Provision of Primary Care Services During a Pandemic etc.) Regulations 2020, it clarified.

It comes despite pharmacies complaining of overwork and instances of patient abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Negotiated “unilaterally”

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) distanced itself from this decision, which it said “has been made unilaterally” by NHS England.

“This decision does not represent a negotiated position – PSNC’s view is that the planned openings over the bank holidays would have been sufficient to meet patients’ needs and we have seen no evidence to the contrary,” PSNC CEO Simon Dukes said.

Mr Dukes added that PSNC would ask NHS England for “fair funding to cover contractors’ costs for these opening hours”, as it has said that bank holiday days will be treated as normal working days.

This means that the payment that contractors will be able to claim for these days will not “reflect a bank or public holiday premium”, Mr Dukes said.

C+D has approached NHS England for comment.

“Last-minute announcement”

Ms Dukes said PSNC made clear to NHS England “how disruptive making a decision like this on less than a week’s notice is for businesses, pharmacy teams, and their own families”.

“Pharmacy teams had been holding on for this break and we are concerned that there may be an increase in temporary closures now that contractors have to manage workload pressures and staff exhaustion without the Easter break,” he added.

Sadik Al-Hassan, manager of the Well Pharmacy in Kingswood, Bristol told C+D today (April 7) that this “mostly unnecessary opening being forced on pharmacies doesn't give some of our teams the respite they need and deserve”.

“I am sure the last-minute nature of the announcement will add to frustrations in pharmacies up and down the country,” he added.

Appeal the decision

Marty Schulz, a trainee pharmacy technician based in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, wondered whether the decision should be appealed.

“Pharmacy teams are absolutely burnt out. Someone somewhere is asking for dangerous dispensing errors and a lot of sick leave! They’ll soon change their minds when regular responsible pharmacists are off sick and they can’t find locum cover for that same reason, resulting in branches having to close,” she said.

Geeta Sharma, a pharmacist based in Cambridge, launched a petition last week to keep community pharmacies closed over the Bank holiday weekend. At the time of publication, the petition had 411 signatures.

“This break is needed by a flagging workforce more than ever right now. With just a week’s notice, the department of health told pharmacies today [April 3] that they will need to open next weekend,” she wrote as an accompanying statement to her petition.

Opening hours in the rest of the UK

The Scottish health minister Jeane Freeman today asked pharmacies in Scotland to stay open during the Easter bank holidays.

However, community pharmacies in Wales are not expected to open on those days but “health boards may ask for additional cover if necessary”, a Welsh government spokesperson told C+D today.

C+D has approached the Health and Social Care Board in Northern Ireland to ask what decisions have been made regarding pharmacies’ opening hours over the bank holiday weekend.


Good Friday and Easter Monday will this year be normal working days for pharmacies in England and Scotland. Do you agree with this decision?
Total votes: 276
What do you make of NHS England's decision?

david williams, Community pharmacist

I am confused-VERY. If Keith Ridge thinks there are too many pharmacies-why do they have to open over Easter. Surely, only the ones that are essential should. AND if Keith is a scientist and not a charlaton, he would have a scientific analysis of the essential ones and therefore know which need to stay open to meet tghe demand. OR is he winging it like many political "experts"

Richard Rutter, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Beware of trolls on these feeds. I've had a look at the G.Ph.C register of pharmacists (and technicians) and there is no record of "Mark Straughton" so I doubt that this "Pharmaceutical Advisor" exists. From time to time there are similar uninformed views and I've called them out before. Some years ago there was a similar "Sam Morein" who never identified himself and was not on the register of pharmacists.So don't worry too much about these trolling idiots. 

I came off the register some years ago now and it's the best thing I did. The Department of Health has no respect for the pharmacy profession any more but it's funny how we seem to be getting such a good press and several mentions now they need us. Let's hope they don't forget when all this madness is over but I'm not optimistic

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

no response ?........your silence speaks volumes. Thanks

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Fcuk good press. Respectable remuneration will suffice.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

This is a totally uncalled for response.

My role and experience closely relates to a pharmaceutical adviser on the C&D registration and I don't need to justify that more, and I'm entitled to voice my opinion and views on this. I'm not a troll, I've not been offensive or aggressive and my comments have not breached the editorial criteria as they have been posted.

Interleukin -2, Community pharmacist

...but what exactly is your role if I may ask ? Whats a pharmaceutical adviser please? 

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Ask C&D if you want their exact definition of a pharmaceutical adviser.

I'm not telling you my role because I'm not required to under the conditions of the C&D registration .

Perhaps you'd like to contribute to the discussion? Rather than ask a questions on the positions of users on this 


Watto 59, Community pharmacist

Unfortunatley it is very much in forlorn  hope than enthusiastic expectation.

Ashok Pandya, Community pharmacist

extera payments for emergency rotas on fri and mon should be demanded collectively sooner the better

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

£250 per hour.....

Axed Locum, Locum pharmacist

£750.00 fper day, for Easter Friday and Monday the privilege of being a contractor!!

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

CPCS& MUR & NMS all but dried up so £1,500 will not even cover the loss from this for 2  months.  Not to mention the extra staff hours to pay or extra overheads and travelling nor the extra risk incurred nor the inconvenience of such short notice I could go on...

Watto 59, Community pharmacist

Regarding the poll question and 8% agreeing with NHS England who are these muppets? As for the 1% undecided.... what are you undecided about ?

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

They clearly dont work in a pharmacy. They are just trolls.

Ex Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Pharmacy is done. This is just a taste of what is to come beyond this pandemic. Nobody cares about our job. Community pharm is down the bog.
Learn this and know this. Nobody needs a high street pharmacist anymore. Give technicians the job and cut our role from the pharmacy.

We owe ourselves more than bagging prescriptions and being laughed at by the health sector

Wake up. Get out of it. Or it'll be too late

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

People on here are deluded. I moved into the Industry over three years ago and have trebled my salary only working 35 hours a week, and of course no weekends.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Any chance of letting us know where you are based and the kind of work you do ?
Wish there was a way for a private chat

Industry Pharmacist, Head/Senior Manager

I work in Medical Affairs, in addition to being a Global Medical Signatory.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Angela - the clue is in the role - Industry pharmacist. Therefore, no customers, no prescriptions, no otc, no abuse, no overwork, no stress, good work/life balance (tell me when you want me to stop), interesting job, better pay, more respect, (you still haven't told me to stop), better hours, better progression prospects, better pension, earlier retirement (I'll stop of my own accord now). You and I (or not I any more - once this coronavirus rubbish is over I'm long gone from this sector - B and Q beckons) backed the wrong pharmacy horse I'm afraid. We fell at Bechers Brook and the green screens are around us now just waiting for the bullet to put us out of our misery.

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I've got an idea.

As it's looking like lock down /social distancing/ only essential travel measures are going to happen for a while. Why doesn't the dept of health work with GP surgeries to centralise all dispensing processes, along with the logistics and changes to the legalities necessary. Then deliver all prescriptions to patients at their home address, or they can collect them from a designated prescription collection points throughout the country. If any patients need to speak to a pharmacist then this can be done centrally (via NHS 111 perhaps) or via video calling.

In this way there's no need for patients to come into pharmacies whatsoever to collect a presscription therefore we don't need any of the 1000's of pharmacies open. Therefore the entire pharmacy workforce can be furloughed.

Good idea?

Wouldn't have any 'burnt out' worries over bank hol weekend then. 

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

God bless you when you need urgent antibiotics or pain killers and your internet pharmacy will take 3 days :))

mark straughton, Pharmaceutical Adviser

My wasn't an internet pharmacy. They already exist. Bless 

O J, Community pharmacist


Stop. Please stop. And get ready to count smarties on on good friday and Bank holiday Monday. Make sure you give me plenty of blue ones.

Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

sounds like you've taken too many ...

P M, Community pharmacist

brillliant maybe all pharmacists could become pharmaceutical advisors like you.. you know the ones with made up titles

Mark Stakim, Community pharmacist

This is the sector's reward for the big boys opening late, closing early and shutting for lunch since the crisis hit. I have been open for all my contracted hours and more, not less, but I get the same treatment as the now part-timers. We all get tarred with the same brush in the end.

O J, Community pharmacist

Mark has your items gone up? If not, then you are a mug.

Mark Stakim, Community pharmacist

Of course they have, that's why I'm still doing my full hours and more. Why would I do less hours with more items. Its just an excuse to make sure they get home on time to watch the six o clock news with their dinner on their lap. Can't tell you the last time I did that.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Oh I am so glad I decided to ditch this god-awful career when I did. I feel so sorry for the rest of you who are trying your damndest to provide the best service you can under the worst conditions we have ever faced (unless you can remember the war), putting up with the abuse from patients while GPs rest on their laurels via videos and telephones. When the death toll of pharmacists starts will anyone in the ivory towers care? I very much doubt it because this decision shows the contempt we are held in. It basically says 'Go on boys and girls, risk your own lives a bit more for no particular gain or benefit but just because we want to be seen to be doing something'. Thankyou and goodnight!!

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

This sector is utter garbage. Just quit.


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