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Lloyds chief: Mowat may oversee pharmacy's 'demise'

Cormac Tobin: The pharmacy minister has to own up to his responsibility

The pharmacy minister could see the end of the sector if he fails to make it "relevant and compelling", the managing director of Lloydspharmacy's parent company has said.

"[David] Mowat has to own up to his responsibility," Cormac Tobin, managing director of Celesio UK told C+D in an exclusive interview last Tuesday (February 14).

"He must pay evolve and develop the industry, or he will stand over its demise."

Mr Tobin claimed that “a lot” of UK politicians do not realise the value of the face-to-face engagement in community pharmacy, giving the example of a patient who discovered a cancerous mole after following a pharmacist’s advice to visit a GP.

“We work with millions of people every week in this company and the interactions and stories are phenomenal. The amount of letters I get about how we save lives is phenomenal,” Mr Tobin said.

"I'm not quite sure some of our political representatives realise that. Some do, without a shadow of a doubt, but a lot don't."

Working with GPs from "our dedicated businesses"

He criticised Mr Mowat’s push to get 1,500 pharmacists into GP surgeries by 2021 as “not really speaking” to his industry.

“How do [community pharmacists] play a role in that? We already have our healthcare centres. Why take them out of [community pharmacies] and put them into [GP surgeries], why don't we work together?” Mr Tobin asked.

He suggested that contractors would be more motivated to progress and invest in their pharmacies if they, and their staff, could remain in their dedicated businesses.

"New world order" for healthcare

Despite some criticisms, Mr Tobin praised the government's and NHS England’s progressive digital strategy to encourage health professionals to become more technically savvy, as he claimed this approach was “at the root to driving efficiencies”.

“There's a sense of a new world order [for healthcare] and we want to passionately engage in that,” he added.

Look out for more coverage from C+D’s exclusive interview with Cormac Tobin – including what impact both Brexit and the funding cuts will have on Celesio UK – in the coming weeks

What would help the sector to progress?

Yuna Mason, Sales

I think there's an irony in Lloyds foretelling that someone else might preside over the demise of pharmacy.

Yuna Mason, Sales

Lloyds has played its part in creating the conditions for pharmacists in community pharmacy, over many years. Would you really want it doing the same to pharmacists working in GP surgeries? Could it possibly introduce commercial targets, lower wages, replacement with lower skilled staff etc? "Efficiencies" I suspect is Lloyds' real interest. Pharmacists' involvement in supply will always be important, but the opportunity to work in GP surgeries and out of the retail environment is a good thing for pharmacists as an alternative career.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Mr Tobin's role is to manage/develop Celesio UK's business and profits, I understand he used to be in the supermarket industry before migrating to 'healthcare'. Is he interested in developing pharmacy or pharmacy profits?

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

I think the future for 'pharmacists' is positive especially in roles where they can make better use of their training. The future for certain 'chemists shops' is not so.The role of pharmacist has been evolving. We have gone from compounders to dispensers to advisors.How this progresses needs the cooperation between the government and the industry which is not easy as there are too many groups with vested interest

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

'The role of pharmacist has been evolving'

No it hasn't. We are doing virtually the same things we did 20 years ago. Advice that was already previously given has been bureaucratised into box ticking events called MURs and NMS. The rest of it is checking prescriptions as before (but now with fewer staff and more items). 

'We have gone from compounders to dispensers to advisors'

No we haven't. The vast majority of pharmacy funding comes through dispensing, an activity that a pharmacist is still totally liable for. 

Are you trolling community pharmacists or have you never actually worked in a community pharmacy before?

Ebers Papyrus, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Pharmacy deals with the preparation, dispensing, and proper utilisation of drugs. Thats still the dictionary definition, it's also what we trained and chose to study. I think a future which doesn't involve branches of pharmacy being involved in the dispensing of medication is an insult to the profession. It's ok having other roles and evolving and the profession being broad ranging, that's a strength. I would say be careful what you wish for.

R A, Community pharmacist

This sector has been systematically dystroyed through greed and stupidity over the last few decades:

1) Rampant growth of pharmacists through NOT limiting the number of pharmacists that can register.

2) Growth of multiples who have put profit firsts irrespective patient safety.

3) The allowance of supermakets, poundland et al and petrol station to sell medicines without any advice. This has diminished the sector and has led to missuse of medication.

4) Over reliance on NHS 80 years ago pharmacies provided lifestyle advice although I admit it that they never referred to it as that and it might have not been all accurate. 

5) Oligopoly pharmacy has become centralised controlled by several large companies, whilst their employees are regulated heavily by the GPhC no one is regulating the owners who have a overwhelming responsibility in the staffing they provide and the premise in which the pharmacists work in. 


Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Agreed. And we've de-valued our own profession by doing everything for free over the years - blister packs, care home services, deliveries, BP checks, sign passport pictures - you name it, we did it to keep custom, because if we didn't the bloke down the road would - and take our scripts. Of course this suited the NHS down to the ground - divide and conquer, etc. And it worked out for us too, cause dispensing fees were fair and a myriad of other little income streams/scams e.g. specials, made up the difference. Fast forward to today, and we've inherited the 'everything for free' attitude of the past while the NHS cuts payments drastically - is there any wonder we're in the mess we're in? If we had stuck together and insisted on being paid fairly for the services we provide we wouldn't be where we are now.

PoPeYe- Popeys Car Wash, Community pharmacist

Eight and a bit lines of absolutely on point commentary here. The NHS has found the perfect "divide and conquer" system. 

Ebers Papyrus, Pharmaceutical Adviser

The issues run deeper than just David Mowat, if you follow CPO Keith Ridges twitter account you'll soon realise he has nothing postitive to say about community pharmacy. It's all about pharmaceutical waste, being more clinical, pharmacists in GP surgeries and hospital pharmacy. There is nothing on the 'forward view' and new services, there is no mention of the value community pharmacy contributes. The fact he's one of our own is quite frankly bewildering. Making pharmacy relevant and compelling starts with being positive and motivating your profession, basic leadership markers.

Bal Singh, Locum pharmacist

Wasn't he a technician? Just ask him to justify his statements. He comes from the Trump school of Alt Facts with no proof.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

I agree too, though the chances of Mr Mowat giving a damn arent good

Naveen Khosla, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Thank god someone speaking sense for once. I fully support your thoughts.

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