Layer 1

Rise in hub-and-spoke might discriminate against women

Reissner: Plans at odds with government's discrimination policy

Lawyer David Reissner says government plans to expand the use of dispensing hubs are "potentially discriminatory"


Government plans to allow independents to operate a hub-and-spoke model could discriminate against women, a leading lawyer has warned.

The Department of Health (DH) admitted last week (March 22) that the increased use of dispensing hubs will put some pharmacy technicians out of a job.

Because 90% of technicians are female, the plans will affect women “disproportionately", the DH said in its consultation document about the plans.

Plans "potentially discriminatory"

David Reissner, partner at Charles Russell Speechlys LLP, said the proposals put forward by the government are "potentially discriminatory".

The Equality Act 2010 protects against discrimination based on certain "protected characteristics", including gender.

It also protects against indirect discrimination, which occurs when a policy applies to everyone in the same way, but has a worse effect on a particular group, such as women.

Mr Reissner said that such discrimination would be allowed if the government “could establish that this was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.”

But he warned: "Even if the government could avoid a legal challenge, the way the hub-and-spoke proposals are presented appears inconsistent with [its] own policy on discrimination." 

The Equality Act allows individuals discriminated against by a policy to take action in the civil courts.

“It is too soon to tell”

Employment lawyer Nina Khuffash told C+D it is "too soon to tell" whether the government's proposals discriminate against women.

The plans "could be seen as discriminatory", but if the government properly "considers the impact" of a move to hub-and-spoke then it would be protected from court action.

“We will have to wait and see. The consultation document has thought about the potential impact, and [the government has] asked interested parties about their views,” Ms Khuffash said.

APTUK: No discrimination in plans

Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK) president Tess Fenn told C+D that she “did not see discrimination” in the DH’s proposals. 

"It may affect the process of dispensing and I think it is a problem for the profession – it just so happens the profession has more women as workers,” she said. 

Her organisation will “most definitely be responding to the consultation”, she added.


Do you think the government plans amount to discrimination?

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


Dave Downham, Manager


Manish Jain,

It looks like we run out of good ideas to counter Hub and Spoke. Final resort is discrimination!

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The chaotic, inefficient, error prone, expensive, inconsistent, slow and retrograde activity that is community pharmacy dispensing is discriminatory against robotics, software architecture, scanning technology and the brilliant minds (predominantly male) who create them. Why is the tax payer expected to subsidise this discrimination? 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I don't believe the government plans are specifically targeting women working as pharmacy technicians, so no, I do not believe it is discrimatory. 

Ms B Wilson, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Sorry but from what I assume this government are being washed through version of right wing then of course it will have a detrimental effect: are you xx me!!  When ever women are mentioned face it we are seen as fair game and a minority - which actually we are not and we live longer then most men - fact!! But because we maintain the human race etc. we are seen as worth less otherwise why are still discussing these issues some 30 years hence from the so called equal pay act it is all just a joxxe as usual!!

We are a valid force in jobs not to say also education but still this outdated model of the man should be protected and paid more based on what?   Most of the jobs that included Men have been destroyed as a result we are building up a generations of Peacocs!!

Who are the most that are shuffling around, unwashed, not really trying and trying to maintain their masculinity instead of getting on with it such as My Dad's generation and still have the audacity that they can get the women.   Oh dear!  The line is thin and the impact psychological and affect self esteem, fragile ego of the male species!!  Go and see the cities around Britain and a good see who are you seeing shuffling around in reality or pretending.  This government will do the same as it is doing to everything else - the bottom line the American? way privatise until we will have nothing left, the fifth largest economy in the world who, in the day destroyed, raped and pillaged at least 2/3rds or more or the world and this is where we are at now - Conservatives - Yep the chics have come to roost - sorry for  the rant but just how I see it.. Pharmacy as a profession, which it used to be should be any different?  It should be valued but it isn`t  All about the bottom line...

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

As an individual, have you ever thought that people may not have judged you by your gender, but by your obvious inability to think properly, reason effectively, reference appropriately, assert evidentially and communicate with clarity? From your post I would happily discriminate your failures in these areas.

Yo Palumeri, Community pharmacist


James Smith, Non healthcare professional

1. The document also said pharmacist jobs would be lost 2. Why is APTUK referring to being a pharmacy technician as a 'profession'? 3. The last time I checked (which was when I logged in) this site was called the Chemist and Druggist - why is it not reporting about the impact on pharmacists? 4. That's a very non-committal statement from David Reissner 5. Why not report on the very poor quality of the consultation document (in my opinion - Annex C in particular seems full of wild baseless assumptions) 6. The document makes it clear that multiples will be treated differently to independents and provides very poor reasoning, and doesn't say what the gov intends to do with the wild assumptions it is making eg about labour cost data





Leon The Apothecary, Student

Allow me to answer your questions James. Pharmacy Technicians are recognised as professional occupation. Therefore, it is correct to refer to a Pharmacy Technician as a professional. I believe C&D have reported on the impact on Hub & Spoke multiple times in relation to Pharmacists in the past, although it is a very important impact as well, I agree with you. I would like to see a more in-depth discussion over the document as well from a variety of people.

James Smith, Non healthcare professional

I disagree. As I see it, the harsh reality is that the government is trying to make people think it's a profession, backed by multiples who will benefit from cheaper workers if they can convince the public of the same. I have a lot of respect for many pharmacy technicians and value them, as do many others, but that doesn't make it a profession. In my opinion APTUK are simply seizing the opportunity presented by weak leadership from the gov. and the RPS. Interesting reactions to a C&D article you were quoted in here, a mix of responses from the US and the UK

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Allow me to answer your question James in more detail. Pharmacy Technicians are recognised as a professional occupation. Therefore are professionals. Pharmacy Technicians in the US have different training I believe from memory.

James Smith, Non healthcare professional

That isn't more detail, you just repeated what you said above, which is what APTUK and the gov keep doing. The bottom line is the government wants to remove the need to have a pharmacist supervising a pharmacy and to do that it needs to convince people that technicians can do it. That will make running a pharmacy cheaper. Don't expect to get paid any more than you do now though.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I believe a Technician is the perfect candidate to run a pharmacy, freeing up the Pharmacist for more clinical work that better falcitates their training and knowledge in a more practical way. 

Old Timer, Manager

so to flip it are contractors being unfair to men and should employ more men techs , what a load of bo ******s . Clutching ,straws ,at rearrange to sum this up .

SydBashford Sold&Retired&DeRegistered, Community pharmacist

Bollocks !

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

I would agree. Reissner is missing the bigger issue regarding ethnicity and how small independents will be disproportionately affected by the cuts. Given that most of his clients are of Asian origin this seems a little strange. Does it not ?

free spirit, Community pharmacist

Not often I post, but that one makes me cringe.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Whilst I normally have a lot of respect for was Mr Reissner has to say, this feels a bit tenuous a link to use a leverage to stop the use of hub & spoke

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

The BMA has just taken the Gov to Judicial Review on the same basis.


What Reissner seems to have missed is that the ethnicity issue surrounding independent pharmacies that will be force to close.


This is ALSO an equalities issue as ethnic pharmacists, especially ethnic women are herded into community pharmacy and denied opportunities in other sectors.

Job of the week

Pharmacist Manager
Midlands, Cheshire & Dorset
Salary dependent upon experience