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Dispensing hub will not lead to redundancies, says Boots

Practice The main aim of the dispensing support pharmacy, due to dispense medicines to 50 branches this summer, was to free up pharmacists’ time for services, superintendent pharmacist Steve Banks has told C+D


Boots will not make any redundancies as a result of building a dispensing hub to serve its branches, superintendent pharmacist Steve Banks has revealed.

The main aim of the dispensing support pharmacy, due to dispense medicines to 50 branches this summer, was to free up pharmacists' time for services, Mr Banks told C+D in an exclusive interview on Monday (March 24).

Boots expected the site in Preston to serve 250 branches by the end of the year, Mr Banks revealed, but stressed this would not lead to job losses. "We wouldn't want any redundancies as a result of doing this because we want our pharmacists to be there with patients and customers," he said.

The dispensing support pharmacy will free up pharmacists' time for services, says superintendent pharmacist Steve Banks

More on hub and spoke

James Waldron: Is the sector finally embracing the hub-and-spoke model?

David Reisnner: Hub-and-spoke laws disadvantage independents

Gemma Collins: The hub has spoken

The dispensing support pharmacy attracted criticism from some C+D readers when it was announced earlier this month (March 7), with some expressing fears that it could lead to a "very limited" service on the high street and redundancies.

But Mr Banks said pharmacists involved in the trial were "really excited" about the dispensing support pharmacy, which would enable them to have more conversations with patients. "They're pleased we're investing in the future of pharmacy but they're also pleased that it's something that will support them," he told C+D.

Mr Banks added that the use of automation in the dispensing process would enable Boots to provide an "even safer service" for patients.

Boots UK's director of pharmacy Peter Bainbridge stressed that the multiple had only given the project the go-ahead once it was fully confident in the technology. It had already spent more than 18 months planning the move, he revealed.

Mr Bainbridge argued that the dispensing support pharmacy would help Boots meet the demands of an increasingly challenging NHS environment.

"Ultimately, if we're going to be a pillar in the NHS, we need to provide better patient care," Mr Bainbridge told C+D. "[The dispensing support pharmacy] will release pharmacists to do the services we have now and the services we think will come tomorrow."

Boots said its dispensing support pharmacy will have a responsible pharmacist on site and will be using the "latest scanning and verification technology" to check the accuracy of the items that are being assembled, labelled and bagged.

Would you feel your job was secure if you worked for Boots?
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Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

What a load of cobblers. We are not innocent kindergartens

Dispensing Assistant,

Why is it that they talk about Pharmacy then Pharmacist but give no recognition to the other roles who WILL be affected by this situation. The idea is good for the business but could be bad for the people what is their next step.

D Pharm, Locum pharmacist

dispensers are a dime a dozen thats why - It sounds rude but let me explain. To become a pharmacist currently in the uk there are no two ways about it you get the alevels go to uni, do four years, find a pre reg and then get qualified. When its all sed and done your alone in that exam. it is a shame about the over supply but that is another issue. With dispensers you can by and large take anyone that is willing and make them into a dispenser who gets ALOT of help to pass thier assessments. This is just my own view that when it comes to pharmacy, pharmacists should be telling everyone what pharmacy is to do and is about. while you opinion may be noted it does not hold any weight, it is good to see that you are engaged and to be honest a good dispenser is invaluable. There is no I in team but dont get to big for your boots

Antonio Lex, Primary care pharmacist

I do laugh when I see this thing about rates of £10/hr. It wont happen unless we let it. Anyone who works for such a rate is a mug to be quite honest. You can work on a checkout or stock shop floors for £10/hr, without the responsibility of our role. I personally will never work as a 'pharmacist' for less than £18hr.


LOL LIKE £18 is alot of money.....


Antonio Lex, Primary care pharmacist

Lol £35k a year is hardly poor for a 24 year old. Top 25% of the uk tax payers. Im quite happy ;)

MICHAEL PARKER, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I was getting that 10 years ago!!

Antonio Lex, Primary care pharmacist

I have only been qualified a year though in a quiet pharmacy, no stress, good shifts

S S Locum, Locum pharmacist

may not be very confortimg time for students - but still they flock in to do the same !!!
Either they know something that we don't or they havent done enough research.
Good luck to them- all will be revealed in 10yrs time !!!

Roy Sinclair, Community pharmacist

This will simply extend the time between prescribing and dispensing even more and make accountability for errors even more difficult to determine.
The next logical step (and efficient at that) would be to send the dispensed prescription back to the prescriber or their practice and remove the middleman.

andrew Ward, Pharmaceutical Adviser

what happens if an error is made at a dispensing hub and then the rx given out at the pharmacy the patient brought the rx into/requested it could be picked up from?
(who takes the blame??)

O J, Community pharmacist

I think It will be blamed on pharmacist who checked it. It will be the same scenario as if you hand out checked prescription sitting on the shelf but signed off by a different pharmacist rather than yourself.

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

So much for the cost of service enquiry. Now completely out of date with the significant reduction in staff costs and use of new technology.

It is about time contractors were paid correctly rather than receiving excessive purchase profits and fees whilst benefiting from absurd contract limitation. No wonder new services are never implemented, whilst contractors make outrageous profits why should they engage in developing the profession.

Paul badham, Community pharmacist

I agree about cosi.government will drastically reduce global sum.same as with the legal profession.with hub and spoke I don't see pharmacy being able to persuade government to part with 2.5 billion annually.on the bright side,newly qualified ,who I feel desperately sorry for,won't have to pay back their students loans if £10 an hour becomes the norm!

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Not very comforting for students. Best advice would be to quit and do something that pays adequately

AJ Smith, Locum pharmacist

They've had hub and spoke dispensing in America and canada for quite a few years from what I've read, and I don't think it's affected the number of pharmacists. However it probably has affected the number of technicians unfortunately. Also they have better funding for pharmacies and health care model in my opinion. I think pharmacies next to health centres will be fine and the supermarket pharmacies as they have a good footfall of people. However I think some smaller chemists on housing estates and some of the recently opened 100 hour chemists will be affected by this new new innovation.


There seems to b a witch hunt against S morein.....

The contract does need a overall and the market must be re-opened


London Locum, Locum pharmacist

read today that independent contractors derive 98% of their income from medicines supply function and 2% from clinical services. So much for the fantasy of 'services'. And people wonder why Rx chasing continues unabated.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

On the side of dispensing workload, you could easily justify and expect the hubs would make use of dispensing technology such as dispensing robotics and auto stocking.

However, with a centralizing project such as this and through the usage of automation you could safely assume that the workload of the high street pharmacy would be diminished. With that diminishing - the diminishing need for a larger workforce. You can understand the fears of job security completely for both dispensing staff, technician and pharmacist.

I would personally like to see the role of the community pharmacist, pharmacy technician, dispensary staff, and medicine counter staff to evolve into more then simply a dispensing factory that pharmacy's are widely regarded as and are allowed the opportunity to really focus on local health.

I do worry though. Could a community pharmacy survive economically without it's bread and butter prescriptions or will that starvation ultimately kill off a patient's local pharmacy store?

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

"No Redundancies"

Yes -- There is hardly any support staff to be made redundant. And for Pharmacists it may hold on for some time till Remote Supervision comes in place (which they are fighting tooth & nale) since they still need a Pharmacist to sign in as RP to run a dispensary. Unless the GPhC and the Government grant that Boots no longer needs to have a Pharmacist in their dispensaries because of their great idea of Hub&Spoke model and their TX EVASION policies !!!!

I am just going Back to The Future and seeing myself with a MOP & A Bucket !!!!

Abid P, Primary care pharmacist

"No redundancies", they tell us, but no mention of an inevitable reduction in salary. Boots will soon say because their pharmacists don't have the same workload as before they shouldn't expect to get paid as much. Boots may be one of the first but they won't be the last. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to hide.

Peter Mcdonnell, Community pharmacist

Talking to a boots employee recently who said the company is making life really hard for its employees - stopping just short of constructive dismissal - with last minute shift changes, assignment to distant branches on the same morning, unrealistic targets etc to encourage people to leave and to save them the redundancy payments

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Similar to what I've from other Boots colleagues. Sadly a lot of them seem resigned to their fate


The market should be open for anyone to open a Pharmacyanywhere. This current system is a disgrace and favours the Multiple.

Paul badham, Community pharmacist

Well the end of pharmacy as we know it,inches a little closer to the precipice

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

This chap even looks like a politician and we all know how trust worthy they are.......

Yo Palumeri, Community pharmacist

" to free up pharmacists' time for services"
the rest of the dispenary team should be very afraid

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Funny, What did you expect himto say

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Could we ask what these services will be?

Also, will they be funded (and from where will this funding come) or will they be provided as loss leaders?

Grumpy Pharm, Community pharmacist

There are a lot of existing services out there that can only be engaged up to a point due to the need to balance other activity within the time available, so less time pressure means more time to do more of what's available...


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