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Lloyds ‘satisfied with findings’ on temporary pharmacy closures probe

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Lloydspharmacy: We offer a competitive and flexible average hourly rate for locums

Lloydspharmacy said it is “satisfied with the findings” of an internal investigation into claims that the multiple briefly closed some branches even when locum cover was available.

Earlier this month, several people shared their concerns on Twitter that Lloydspharmacy was opting to provisionally close some of its branches rather than increase its locum pay rate to find pharmacist cover.

A Lloydspharmacy spokesperson had told C+D that the multiple was aware of the complaints and that its superintendent pharmacist was investigating.

In a statement to C+D today (March 29), a Lloydspharmacy spokesperson said that the multiple's superintendent  “has investigated the complaints raised via social media and is satisfied with the findings”.

C+D has asked for the specifics of these findings.

The spokesperson added that “closing any of our pharmacies at any time is always a last resort”, as Lloydspharmacy takes “our responsibility for the care of our patients and customers very seriously”.

However, while it is the multiple’s priority to ensure pharmacies are “open and accessible”, it is “essential they continue to be viable operations” so they can serve communities in the long-term, they said.

“We are confident that we operate a competitive and flexible average hourly rate for locum pharmacists and would direct complainants to the relevant NHS commissioner should they have any further concerns,” the spokesperson added.

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) was informed of the issue earlier this month. Following Lloydspharmacy’s update on its investigation, C+D has approached the GPhC for further comments.

Locum pharmacist Tohidul Islam, who shared his concerns about the temporary closures on social media, told C+D: "A simple solution to the branch closure crisis is to ensure locums are booked in at higher rates in advance."

He asked what the GPhC and NHS would do to "ensure contractual obligations are met and no harm comes to patients" in these situations.

26 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of this statement?

R A, Community pharmacist

I feel vindicated for telling aspiring A-level students to forget pharmacy as a profession.

The underlying problem is the work condition after all if things were not so stressful you wouldn't have staff shortages. Employed pharmacists are being overworked and as a result becoming ill hence the need to book a locum. In the past locum was predominantly used for holidays and providing cover for pharmacists who worked part time. However these days emergency cover is more common. 

I believe part of the issue is also patient culture if you go to Continental Europe or Asia people take a more proactive role in managing their own health. In UK we have this unrealistic demand from the public. The public needs to better educated in using the pharmacy services. For example when I worked in a independent pharmacy 'free delivery' was only for clinically vulernable patients. Suddenly everyone was given a 'free delivery' until the management realised that such services were  unfeasible and they ceased this service reverting back to needs basis. If the government is unwilling to fund all the things a pharmacist has to do then perhaps we can cutdown our work and just do what we get paid for. This would make work more tolerable and reduce staff shortages?

*This comment has been removed for breaching C+D's community principles*

P M, Community pharmacist

explain i dont get it..

Pear Tree, Community pharmacist

That's some serious allegation if it can be proven in court of law.

Welcome to suplex city

C A, Community pharmacist

What did you say?

david williams, Community pharmacist

As pharmacists, we need to be evidence based. We cannot prejudge the GPhC. Although you may (probably) be proved correct. This is an interesting situation, reminscent of the miners strike in 1984, the rights of workers, very important, versus the establishment, with agendas on both sides, not all completely innocent. Refusing to pay a quoted rate, and closing, very unprofessional and driven by profit. Refusing to work for the quoted rate and forcing a closutre, entirely correct. BUT, also vice versa. Both parties motivated nby money. You are not worth that and I cannot afford gto pay you. I am worth that and I will not work for you unless you do. Why are both arguments not judged in the same context. I agree you should not work for a rate you di not accept. Also, they should not be forced to pay a rate they cannot accept. That is how negotiations / trade union relations / strikes / bankruptcies / redundacies / industry destruction relations work. Hence my miners stike analogy. Good luck.

Shahan Mir, Community pharmacist

 

David some good and interesting points you raise there. I believe both arguments are not judged in the same context as there is a key difference. The locum is not obliged to accept the rate on offer and has no obligation to the branch or their patients until signed in as RP. They can simply walk away from the negotiations if their desired date is not met. The contractor would likely accept the lowest rate and therefore if the locum is consistently asking for a rate higher than is being accepted by others, they would need to reassess their future offers. The locum is also a business and a lack of work due to being undercut by other locums is also a threat to their long term viability.

The contractor however has a contractual obligation to open and its in their interest to obtain RP cover or suffer the penalties. If the profit does not meet the expense of staffing a pharmacist, they would need to re-evaluate their long term viability and decide whether to close the branch or sell. The decision to close due to expense cannot be made if core hours opening is a contractual requirement. It's not as if the parent company has no funds to fund a loss making branch until that decision of viability is made.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Completely destroys David's argument. The question remains what is the punishment for Lloyd's where they purposely decide not to meet their contractual obligations ?

Rita Pharm, Administration & Support

No comment from the PDA?

Do they think that if they support Lloyds or stay quiet that Lloyds will be nice to them? LMAO

Cod Fillet, Community pharmacist

This is farcical ! The only way for this blatant break of contractual obligations by Lloydspharmacy to be addressed is for this practice to go to the press. Headline " Lloydspharmacy deliberately keeps pharmacies closed preventing patients from accessing their medication. Internal investigation finds nothing wrong". What a headline!

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

The spokesperson added that “closing any of our pharmacies at any time is always a last resort”. However, while it is the multiple’s priority to ensure pharmacies are “open and accessible”, it is “essential they continue to be viable operations”. 

These two statements seem to contradict each other. First the spokesperson says closing the pharmacy is a last resort, then later they say although its a priority to remain open its essential that they are viable. This would therefore make opening unviably a last resort. When faced with a pharmacist shortage it appears the first option is to recruit a locum pharmacist on a low rate, the next prefered option is to close and the last resort would be to pay a higher rate to attract a pharmacist in order to keep the branch open, albeit potentially at a loss. Therefore based only on the spokepersons arguments it is not a last resort to close the pharmacy, it is taken as the preferred option to opening at a loss. On that basis the question is does the NHS contract allow the contrator to absolve responisblity for performance of their side of the contract at times of unprofitability?

Getting Shorter, Community pharmacist

Great logic and the real position heart of the situation.

 

Of course LP are "satisfied with their findings" - unlike the (professional) assumption that they were investigating whether they could have opened at all, the (commercial) question they were really asking was "did we save money and get away with it?"

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Call me Nostradamus. Last week I said nothing will happen. 

N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I once visited a Mental Health institute. There was a person locked up in isolation. He had self investigated himself and kept on shouting "I'm not Mental". Yet he was not released. May be the law has changed now?

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

Unbelievable that they can get away with investigating themselves...Any complaints about us locums can often go to the GPHC who throw the kitchen sink at us...Wish we could investigate ourselves !!  .....pathetic state of affairs....

 

 

 

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

Of course. You deserve everything you get if you're trying rip off multiples by suggesting you should be paid a reasonable rate for a days work. 

 

John Cleese, Production & Technical

This has "gone" to the GPhC. Didn't you read that bit? I would rather trust the regulator's stance on this when it comes, instead of the kangaroo court that is the comments section of the Chemist+DailyMail+Druggist.

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

And what do you think the GPhC are going to do? Lol.

John Cleese, Production & Technical

I suggest you put yourself forward as a Council member, Nostradamus. https://www.pharmacyregulation.org/about-us/who-we-are/our-governing-council/how-become-council-member

Benie Locum, Locum pharmacist

You'll find that is pretty much a closed club and what makes you think I haven't in the past.

Dave Downham, Manager

I don't see what the issue is. I have had an internal investigation as to who is the best looking in my office and, without bragging about it, let's just say that I am satisfied with the findings,

A Pharmacist, Allocation & Distribution

With investigations of this quality, the Lloyds superintendent has a long career ahead of her in pharmacy

Shahan Mir, Community pharmacist

"However, while it is the multiple’s priority to ensure pharmacies are “open and accessible”, it is “essential they continue to be viable operations” so they can serve communities in the long-term, they said."

Surely if they invested in retaining their employed Pharmacists, they would need less reliance on locums if they were concerned with long term viability. The examples on Twitter were Locums offering reasonable rates achieved before and questions relating to viability as a multi million pound corporation the closure of the pharmacies need to be made secondary to keeping the shops open for that given day to protect a patent's access to medication.

If some branches are unviable, close them down or sell them to someone who wants to turn them around but before that there are NHS contractual obligations to keep.

 

John Portfolio career, Primary care pharmacist

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Lloyds investigate themselves, find no wrongdoing but don't reveal the details? Come on GPhC, if not this then what exactly is your remit?

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