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Former Sainsbury's pharmacy's alleged 'turmoil' under Lloyds

Lloydspharmacy: Claims are concerning, but we don't believe there is a broader issue
Lloydspharmacy: Claims are concerning, but we don't believe there is a broader issue

A former Sainsbury’s pharmacy is suffering from “dangerous working conditions” since it was acquired by Lloydspharmacy, according to an anonymous locum pharmacist.

In a letter received by the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) in February – and seen by C+D – an individual who describes themselves as a “locum pharmacist” claims staff and patients at a Lloydspharmacy branch in a “medium-sized town” in the “south east of England” have had difficulties under its new owners.

Will Jennings, Lloydspharmacy head of retail operations for Sainsbury’s branches, told C+D yesterday (April 18) the contents of the letter are "concerning...but it is not our belief that there is a broader issue”.

You can read more from Lloydspharmacy’s detailed response to C+D below.

Staff pushed to quit

The letter’s author – who claims to have worked at the Lloydspharmacy in question “on an intermittent basis” – describes the branch as “an accident waiting to happen”.

Staff at the branch “lurch from turmoil to playing catch-up”, pushing “a number” of counter and dispensing staff to quit in the last two months, due to the conditions having “markedly deteriorated”.

The altered conditions under Lloydspharmacy include “at least one, two or three less staff” for any given shift, the locum alleges. “Dispensary and counter staff are demoralised, overworked, stressed, fed up… most will leave."

The pharmacy is “very cold", "noisy" and "woefully inadequate" for the number of patients it serves, the author claims. As a result, there are “endless patient complaints about long queues, occasional errors” and the pharmacy is “multiple days behind” on its electronic prescriptions.

“We have no expectation of change, as not only is no capital development planned, we don’t even have permission to buy envelopes and stamps for sending scripts back to doctors’ surgeries for amendment.”

For the full letter, click here.

Lloydspharmacy’s response

Lloydspharmacy parent company Celesio UK bought all 281 Sainsbury’s pharmacies for £125 million in 2015, with the handover completed in September 2016.

Lloydspharmacy’s Mr Jennings told C+D the multiple had been “surprised” by the letter – which it received last month and has discussed with the PDA – but was “unable to substantiate its content due to it being anonymous”.

“It’s difficult to deal with the issues it raises without knowing the store concerned.”

The company believes it is “not representative of the rest of our pharmacy network in Sainsbury’s stores”, he stressed.

The Sainsbury’s pharmacies were integrated with “very little disruption to patients”, while the rebranding caused “no interruption to colleague working”, Mr Jennings added.

Responding to the letter’s claims of high staff turnover at the unnamed branch, Mr Jennings said turnover of “all roles” in the former Sainsbury’s pharmacies “is in line with expectations”.

“We have recruited [more than] 300 new colleagues to ensure the pharmacies are resourced to the levels we would expect to allow them to operate safely and successfully.”

“When colleagues leave or go on long-term sick [leave], those hours are covered according to the needs of the business and in line with standard practice,” Mr Jennings added.

PDA reaction

PDA director of defence services Mark Pitt told C+D the letter is “a very poor reflection on how pharmacists believe whistleblowing complaints will be handled by the big employers”.

"Pharmacists are so fearful of losing their jobs [or] bookings that they have to resort to anonymous letters to raise safety concerns."

Mr Pitt said he had found the superintendent pharmacist for Lloydspharmacy, Steve Howard, to be “genuinely concerned” by the letter, which he found “encouraging”.

The General Pharmaceutical Council has also “acknowledged” the letter, which the PDA forwarded to the regulator, Mr Pitt said.

The PDA had received reports of “similar concerns” to those in the letter from “a number of members”, Mr Pitt added.

Are you feeling the pressure of the funding cuts?

Have you noticed an increase in pressure at work as the funding cuts have started to 'bite'? Have you been asked to reduce your hours or increase the number of medicines use reviews? Or has a change of ownership affected your pharmacy?

Share your story with C+D by emailing us at this address with the subject "pharmacy pressures". We will respect all requests for anonymity.

Please include as much detail as possible. It would be helpful to include the relevant town or region.

Do you feel under pressure in your pharmacy?

Danny TheRed, Community pharmacist

Obviously poorly performing with sainsburys, shame on you, support was always there

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

I always found them an excellent, professional company. 

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology


Lucas Perez, Student

Supply demand ....I'll b surprised if rates are above £16 post August. 


S J- Locum, Locum pharmacist

You accept the rate, you get the rate.. this will bring down to minimum wage?

Why work for less than minimum £30/hr with all the responsiblity, plus other services. Companies are having a laugh at our expense, for being weak.

They have NO financial problems whtsoever. It is just an excuse. They have enough finances to buy other businesses etc. They are saving so much by cutting staff, their wages, and locum rates.

Thay should not be running this business if they have financial problems. Sell them to Independents. 

Seriously it is ALL about money in their CEO's pockets and other so called officials.

Multiples should NOT be allowed to run any business that entails patient safety. They have no Conscience. If someone suffers they don't care. It is the Phaemacists' responsibility in the eyes of the law.

GPHC is a total and utterly useless. They are 100% behind these companies , no matter what they appear to be/say. Don't rely on them for anything except for a reprimand and a striking off order.

They are there for filling the pockets of lawyers, colleagues and multiples. They are all ''Mates'?

The only way is to EXPOSE them all to the Media and let the Public decide. Complain to MP's. Or we will be carrying on complaining for another 20 years or so. HIT them in their pockets.


They employ the cheapest labour possible. Most of Rowlands Managers and Area managers were qualified less than a year ago and have no experience whatsoever, no management skills, people skills, respect for employees except to throw their weight around. Very little knowledge of the Law regarding pharmacy

What a SAD profession. You have to be desperate to become a Pharmacist nowadays.


Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

You have to be misinformed to become a pharmacist. I got talking to a pre-reg recently and he admitted his only research consisted of reading the material on the university websites. I guess he expressed concern about the so called profession he was coming into.

The Guardian did go a good piece and we will have filled their journalistic belly for now. They are not our represenative to the outside world (sadly)  and the motive is story rather than outright facts with mainstream media.

A real scandal or tragedy is the only driver to get a response.

A former employee reported the overcharging of additional fees to debt ridden customers of store cards issued by a bank. His reward? To be hounded out of his job. He has been unemployed the last 10 years and nearly lost his home on more than one occasion.

His exposure got a response. Denial and cover up. Corruption and condemnation of him as a conspiracy theorist etc.

There is no such thing as protecting whistleblowers. His conclusion - short of a matter of life and death, seek pastures new and forget about doing the so called right thing....

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

Agree with everything you said. It's the same at Lloyds, employing AM's that used to work in iceland or farmfoods, then these are the same guys trying to tell us how we should be running pharmacys and doing MURS.


Sham Kiani, Community pharmacist

It was only last week lloyds were asking staff to reduce hours in branches to deal with the cuts? Lloyds pharmacy have a bit of a reputation to staff shortages. I applaud the locum who highlighted this, and I hope this encourages other Locum's to report more pharmacies where working conditions are not upto scratch. 

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Report to whom though?

If ever there was a case for the GPhC to take action against a multiple it would have been in response to the “When Boots went rogue” Guardian expose, the record postbag in response to the published articles and other evidence submitted by the PDA.

Their decision to take no action, most regrettably, signaled that they regard safe staffing levels, extreme working pressures, bullying and a “professional” workplace dominated by non negotiable targets as purely internal matters for these Corporates.

The most unjust outcome of this is that should anything serious happen in one of these Pharmacies it would be the hapless “Responsible Pharmacist” who will be the one to shoulder the blame and face the consequences alone.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

I so agree Clive,  the GPhC have really shown their true colours and what they say about whistleblowing and what they do about it are 2 totally different things! Roll on retirement ! I mean how much evidence do they want from the Guardian, not my personal choice of paper, but they did a good investigative piece of journalism. It just shows, follow the money,  from the multiples to the G*** ???? 

S J- Locum, Locum pharmacist

Expose, and bring them down on their knees,

Guardian, HELP!!

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

A missed opportunity and quite deliberate in my opinion. As condtions for safety deteriorate further, more pharmacists will come into the firing line. The supposed new standards will cause a kind of cognitive dissonance ( they will suffer in silence over doing the right thing ) with some newly qualified personnel in particular as they struggle with responsibility and expectation. I am concerned the wrong set of circumstances will cause someone to end their life in this hostile environment.

Honest Pharmacist, Community pharmacist


Sharon Stone, Communications

Oh dear Clive, you mentioned Boots and rogue in the same sentence . Expect your comment like most of mine to be edited out when you mention them !!!!

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

I was given a warning for likening multiple staff to robots! 

Sharon Stone, Communications

Oh Dear Angela, you definitely hit a nerve then , the truth always hurts then they start getting nasty !!!!!!


Christopher Ruane, Community pharmacist

Was that by C + D  - or a multiple you were at?!

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

An email from the lovely James !  ;)  Apparently I made a personal attack on someone from a mulitple ! It wasn't a personal attack, I was just trying to make the point that those at the big companies are all brainwashed! 


Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

It is such a terrible shame that the locum had no other option but to report this anonymously. Every pharmacist in the country understands why..... fear.

Lucas Perez, Student

This isn't only just happening at lloyds....when you have two companies which control 50% on the NHS market, this is the result...blatant abuse of power.... I stuck two fingers at Lloyd years ago..

Sharon Stone, Communications

Your right Sham, it is the same scenario as when Pessina took over Boots, a resultant nightmare. Several brave colleagues of mine reported it to the GPhC and they were singled out and you can guess what happened next . There is no recourse for community pharmacists , you're being hung out to dry.



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