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Boots chief: Use funding cut threat as 'kick up backside'

Marc Donovan: The government should invest in, not cut, pharmacy services

Boots UK's chief pharmacist Marc Donovan says the sector should use the continuing threat of a funding cut as a "kick up the backside".

Speaking to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society's (RPS) annual conference on Monday (September 5), Mr Donovan said community pharmacy services will have to be redesigned to meet the challenges of the future.

Boots is in the process of upskilling its dispensing assistants into a 'pharmacy advisor' role, and Mr Donovan suggested the sector's future will involve an increased role for pharmacy technicians, more clinical roles for pharmacists, automated dispensing, and “a different remuneration model as we move towards patient management fees”.

When asked by C+D whether this vision would be impacted by the proposed £170 million cut to pharmacy funding in England, Mr Donovan said the sector will have to “address that”.

Earlier in the day, pharmacy minister David Mowat announced that the planned 6% cut to the global sum in England is to be delayed beyond October.

Mr Donovan said that while the delay was “nice to hear”, the “suggestion” of community pharmacy having to operate with less funding is “still on the table”.

“We need to use this as a kick up the backside to stimulate thinking around how we redesign pharmacy services of the future,” he added.

Coping with change

In his presentation to the conference, Mr Donovan said the profession has a tendency to “struggle with change”.

He suggested the increased use of technology and “hub-to-spoke dispensing” would give pharmacy teams the “space” to deliver more services in future.

“If the government is listening, it should invest in community pharmacy, because it can unlock a lot of the issues the NHS is facing."

"I hope they don't cut funding, because then we can get on with the very real and important job of change," he added.

What do you make of Mr Donovan's comments?

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

Boots are upskilling counter assistants to 'Pharmacy advisors'? Isn't the word 'pharmacy' legally protected in relation to descriptive roles? Surely the term is misleading. Really, aren't they just advisors as they have always been. Another red herring from sinking Boots.



Gareth Rowe, Community pharmacist

I feel my backside has been well and truly kicked many times all ready. In fact, as I run round in the day trying to fulfill all my 'roles', provide all the services I'm now expected to provide, sort out stock shortages, counsel customers, complete audits as well as do all the clinical checks necessary (as we still have to play some role in the 'supply' process before tech's and ACTs can finish it) I find the pain in my 'backside' grows more and more each day!!


Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Boots is such a wonderful company. All they care about is the wellbeing of their customers and staff. I mean really, how much more blood can they suck out of the dead corpse of pharmacy.

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

Let's get this clear. The only reason boots want hub and spoke is that it means the net sum gain is for them. Less staff to employ and more liability for the professionals. It turns pharmacy into an even greater supply model that suits the larger companies better as they can exploit more profit from it..... It kills the independents who are the true innovators and can move with great skills to adapt to patient needs....... Can someone please ask him if the reports about stressed staff and expose articles about HIS company have been a "kick up the backside" for Boots? No? Hmmmm......

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

And when the helpful counter assistant in Boots disappears to help and elderly customer then the whole counter is deserted. Then the several people in the queue including myself look at each other rather bemused and stare at the dispensary where the staf look as though they are pulling their hair out on the phone or just simply's quite bad really. And I think that used to be me....lolx

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

From what I hear from former Boots colleagues, pharmacy staff find it very difficult to cover the healthcare counter and dispensary.I must admit that on the odd occasion that I shop at Boots, there is a paucity of staff to ask and just one counter assistant. So, I feel very sorry for staff as I remember when there was always plenty staff but times change, with cut backs delayed or otherwise any services will need to be private as there's no NHS money.

Honest Tikes, Sales

Yes as we show staff the door we can send them on the way with a cost saving kick to the rear,and rather efficiently apply the same to the public on their way in to enjoy our new "efficient" service levels.And of course let's not  forget to apply our size 13's to the posterior of the profession of Pharmacy which we hold in such high regard .....But please no booting the good Burghers of Zug in whose tax saving glory we delight.

THB _B, Community pharmacist

Let's hope they are not up skilling staff to be pharmaCIST advisors...rather pharmacy advisors... as I am sure C&D is aware pharmacist is a protected title.....

James Waldron, Editorial

Thank you for flagging up that typo. I'll amend it now.

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

It is perhaps an appropriate response from Boots who seem to take great joy treating staff (KUTBS) in this manner.

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

“He (Mr [email protected]) suggested the increased use of technology and “hub-to-spoke dispensing” would give pharmacy teams the “space” to deliver more services in future”

You do have wonder if any new services of substance will be forthcoming when you consider the public revelations in the Guardian et al as to how current services can be exploited purely for financial gain by certain Corporates.

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

He said it wrong. He meant to say space to achieve more targets.

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