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PDA unapologetic for MUR attention during negotiations

Mark Koziol: Issue has really caught the public's imagination

The union has been approached by documentary makers wanting to cover pressures at the multiples, chair Mark Koziol revealed in a C+D podcast


The chair of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) is unapologetic about drawing the media’s attention to medicines use review (MUR) pressures at a time of sensitive funding negotiations.

The PDA’s survey of target pressures at the multiples made international headlines last month after the Guardian used it as part of its allegations that some Boots managers have instructed staff to carry out unnecessary MURs.

The multiple said at the time that it “doesn’t recognise” the newspaper’s claims.

Commenting on the Guardian’s story last month, Pharmacy Voice chief executive Rob Darracott said pharmacists should be “under no illusions [that] stories like this undermine the case for the sector”.

The “window of opportunity” to influence the planned cuts to pharmacy funding in England was “narrowing by the day”, Mr Darracott stressed at the time.

No apologies

But PDA chair Mark Koziol told C+D earlier this month that the union did not make “any apologies” about discussing these issues during the negotiation period and would do “exactly the same again”.

In an exclusive interview with C+D editor James Waldron for a podcast on May 12, Mr Koziol said the organisation has since been approached by documentary makers keen to cover the issue of staff pressures in large pharmacy chains.

“It really has caught the imagination of the public in a way that was much bigger than anyone had expected,” he said.

You can listen to C+D's full interview with Mr Koziol in the podcast below:

What else did Mr Koziol say?

“We believe professionalism in pharmacy is being snuffed out – and it’s in the domain of the large corporates.”

“[Pharmacists] got to this place like frogs in a bath of hot water. We are now scalded and almost unable to get out of the bath.”

“It’s a much bigger story than Boots – but Boots is a classic case in point.”

“Unless we have a healthy profession, we will continue to be sent to the fringes of healthcare.”

“Day in, day out, pharmacists ring us who are horrified, who are stressed, who are crying… as a result of the working environment that they are in.”

“We had an opportunity to bring this to the attention of the wider world. The genie is now out of the bottle.”

Watch Mr Koziol describe what's next for the PDA here

Do you agree with Mr Koziol?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information

What do you think about MUR pressures?

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

I appreciate most of the people commenting here have or have had an issue with one or more of the multiples. I get that. What I don't get is what everyone is hoping to achieve by all this? OK - don't work for the multiples - but how many independants are there? Not enough to give gainful employment to all the pharmacists around if you close down the multples (and don't think by destabilising them that you will be able to pick up a contract for next to nothing - that won't happen) - all you are doing is showing Pharmacy and, by association, Pharmacists (Yes, I mean you lot!) in the worste light possible at a time when we are trying to get public support. Is there an issue with undue pressure to perform MURs - undoubtedly, especially in the larger multiples, but do you really believe there are not two patients who would actually benefit from an MUR walk through the front door of a pharmacy every day? Most people have the issue of  too many options but not enough time to do it all - but, you know, we try because we are Professionals (and, for those of you who aren't sure, professionalism is as much about my mind-set as it is about others view of me)

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

You're right Stephen. Just forget everything and leave as it is and sweep under the carpet. By the way those two patients that walk into your Boots store have to give consent for an MUR or does it work differently at Boots?

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

No, you have misunderstood me. I have never said ignore this issue or cover it up. What I have said is let's not have all this in-fighting and public washing of dirty laundry at such a significant time. You have an issue? Report it. You think there is fraud? Whistleblow! But maintain a united front .

Yuna Mason, Sales

I don't think anyone misunderstood you. Whistleblow on a national problem that's been happening for years, but keep it in house? Bring it up another time? Don't let anyone in the outside world know about it? I'd say you really don't understand whistleblowing, but I think you do. And you have the same mentality as some of the multiples. Now is a perfect time for it to come up (again) when the country is talking about what kind of pharmacy service it wants. And this isn't about pharmacists, it's about big business and the current environment in the community sector.

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

When do you reckon would be a good time Stephen?

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Maybe, instead of the verbose reconfiguration of the same post, contractors could cut and paste the following response to any employee/locum dissent: keep your mouth shut, accept what you are given or you will end up with nothing. 

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

The same old repetitive threats. Employees and locums are mostly numb now to the drivel spouted by Hussain , PM etc...

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

Shameful comment by Rob Darracott. What really undermines the sector is the shoddy behaviour of the multiples and their protector: The GPhC.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"under no illusions [that] stories like this undermine the case for the sector". I think he means stories likes these undermine the case for the maintenance of a cartel where extreme monopoly profits are concentrated in the hands of the few through the exploitation of the many and where this previously hidden special privilege risks being revealed to an unknowing taxpayer. 

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Why is Mr Darracott's loyalty with the multiples and not his fellow pharmacists? They are destroying what little is left of this once great profession.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

How is Pharmacy Voice funded ?  That will give us a big clue about why Darracott says what Darracott says.

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Profession ?

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Nor should the PDA apologise. It is the responsibility of employee/locum pharmacists to inform the general public of the reality of community pharmacy. You only have to look at the net profit obsessives who post on here to see the true motives of much of this 'profession'. Whether it is the refusal to discuss the evidence base for the cost-effectiveness of pharmacy 'services', the denial of a profit first culture or the near guaranteed wage /employment threat to all employee/locum dissent, it must obvious to all that the truth will never come from the mouth of a contractor. We, the locums and employees, must unite and with collective action expose the shop floor reality, whatever the cost maybe. It could be that we are reaching the point at which many employee/locum pharmacists will have to ask themselves whether it is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees. 

Gursaran Matharu, Community pharmacist

Does anybody want to discuss the various repeat prescription collection services on offer and why many CCGs want to stop them. 

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

CCG's know patients will it order medication them selves regularly..... None have the guts to ban pharmacies from ordering scripts, because then equally pharmacies can turn around and direct all emergency supplies to surgeries..... Surgeries will complain about the work load..... It's a short sighted plan at best...... Best way is to have regular reviews (at surgery) and let survey mange what is and is not on the repeat...... You know, the jobs they should be doing, but are too cut back to do so.

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Another massive fraud as we all well know. How many independents do this? Very few yet the multiples are allowed to get away with what can sometimes be theft.

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

Am an independent pharmacist but have worked for all the multiples over the years. I have been at HSCIC meetings on EPS Repeat Dispensing and it is amazing how many people think MANAGED REPEats are the same thing.  This tactic used by the multiples is immoral and dishonest and is consequently getting pharmacy a bad name.  My CCG is trying to eradicate the practice but to no avail.  How can a large multiple SOP state remove scripts at end of month and process them, if patient doesn't need items as we can not mark script we then DOOP these items? Is this really in our interest.  As for Pharmacy Voice's opinion of the PDA approach, I feel if they cannot support the professionals that do the job then they need to pack up and go home

Z ZZzzzz, Information Technology

If that statement is true about the SOP, then why have GPhC inspectors not pulled the company up about it and reported them to NHS England?

Kieran Eason, Superintendent Pharmacist

Can you give us a hint which multiple that is? the shoe company? or the bank?

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Mr Kozoil is perfectly correct in drawing the media’s attention to this major problem within Pharmacy at this time. No doubt Pharmacy Voice et al would prefer all to keep quiet about the situation lest anything derail the MUR gravy train or bring scrutiny to how the large Pharmacy Multiples make their money. It is clear that complaining to the Regulator about extreme workplace pressures and malpractice by certain Multiples is futile. Going public and using the media is the only viable option.

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

​Clivei agree with you absolutely. The PDA did right. It's about time the whole world heard about what goes on in the pharmacy profession, especially within the big multiples. . I left the pharmacy profession 8 months ago for the very reason. I wasn't" practsing" pharmacy, I was a money making being through pressures from at work. MUR and NMS. There was no job satisfaction. Only the PDA has ever sympathized with the cause of pharmacist. The other pharmacy organizations in my opinion have lost touch with the profession. To th pharmacy has lost professionalism.. The soemaker is the biggest culprit.

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Shoemaker? I presume you mean Boots the Chemist?

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

Precisely so. I had to walk away from the shoemaker, in my early years as a pharmacist. Ohhh my, can be a living hell in the boots.

P M, Community pharmacist

too little too late ... how many pharmacists have lost their jobs beacuase of this mur pressure how many have suffered from nervous breakdowns?  where has the pda been ? scratching their as..s , now it has been in the media they are jumping all over it like they were the whistleblower, they weren't ... read the guardian article 

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

Actually if u look a the article. The pda and their data was the difference between boots claiming it was just one guy who had an axe to grind and turned whistle-blower.... And a systemic problem felt across the company by many other pharmacy professionals.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Nobody else is doing anything about this at the current time. The PDA should be fully supported.

Adina Brown, Community pharmacist

T​he PDA has my 101% support. They are the only pharmacy organization that represents,and,stands for the profession if one could call it a profession.

Pill Counter, Pharmacy

Becoming more and more of a stretch calling it a 'profession'. Especially when a chap who was selling golf balls last week can tell you when a MUR is clinically necessary. 'Profession' hmmmmm........ What makes a pharmacist anymore of a professional than a kid working at McDonalds who also has SOPs to follow. And to make it even more of a debate pretty soon both salaries will be aligned if it isn;'t already in some parts of the country.

Yuna Mason, Sales

Well said - the politics in the profession are terrible, but the PDA talk sense.

Mr Pharmacist!, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Daracott is unbelievable. The GPhC are unbelievable.  They both refuse to acknowledge what so many "coal face" workers are having to cope with, at the the same time trying to uphold professional standards personally.

The profession, is rubbish, not worth saving.  Crappy futures.  The more people who wake up and smell the coffee, the more that we will see leave this nonsense 2nd class profession.

The GPhC can merge with the multiples and consummate their incestuous relationship.  How they "let off" P2U is beyond me, and I have no confidence in them at all.  On that basis, I'd suggest every single pharmacist should just do what they want and flaunt whatever law there is, because at the end of the day, who cares.  Injustice!!!! Anger!! Frustration!! all come to mind. 


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