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Lloydspharmacy backs government rejection of student numbers cap

A "free market" for students will encourage entrepreneurship, says Celesio UK MD Cormac Tobin

Capping student numbers would prevent newly qualified pharmacists from working abroad and drive up wages, says parent company Celesio UK's MD Cormac Tobin

EXCLUSIVE

The government was right to reject a cap on pharmacy student numbers to prevent wages becoming "unsustainable", the managing director of Lloydspharmacy's parent company has claimed.


The decision to avoid a cap would not cause an oversupply of pharmacists because demand for their skills would increase as pharmacy's role in the NHS changed, Celesio UK managing director Cormac Tobin told C+D in an exclusive interview yesterday (November 20).


The government announced last month that it would not cap pharmacy student numbers, despite support from the majority of the sector for a limit in a consultation by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).


Mr Tobin said that many newly qualified pharmacists would look to move abroad when they qualified, because their skills were in demand in other countries. A cap would keep pharmacists in the UK and drive up wages to "unsustainable levels", as had a similar policy in the Republic of Ireland, he stressed.


"I don't believe there's an oversupply of skills and labour in healthcare industries throughout the world. Many countries are short, and Britain produces excellent people," he said.



A "free market" would encourage entrepreneurship among young pharmacists, who would "challenge the status quo" and produce better ways of caring for patients, Mr Tobin said.

"As the chief executive of the company who needs these quality skills, I'm not frightened by oversupply because I don't think there will be. I think things are going to happen out there that will drive [oversupply] back out again," he told C+D.


New demand

Mr Tobin pointed to NHS England's Five Year Forward View document, published last month, as an example of how pharmacy's "skill set will move" away from dispensing into more clinical roles, leading to a greater demand for pharmacists. If this healthcare model was properly funded it would create a "new demand" for pharmacists, he added.


Last month, C+D readers slammed the government's "crazy" rejection of the cap on pharmacy student numbers as evidence that it was out of touch with the sector. The government later told C+D that the HEFCE consultation was "not a vote on government policy".



What do you think of Mr Tobin's comments?

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41 Comments

Jonathon Churchill, Medical student

Well since the grapevine consistently tells me "Mmoyds Mharmacy" is a despicable employer; bullying pharmacists into doing stupid MUR targets (ie trying to get 400 MURs from a 2000Rx/month Pharmacy) and them sacking them for not achieving this. Oh and consistent hypostaffing. Although that seems endemic across the sector.

Its "Mmoyds". What do you expect

1: Work abroad... aHem.... like WHERE?! oh yea Qatar and NZ. So thats a slave state and a country the other side of the globe.... Yep I see us all heading for the airport (Not.)

2: So we have one (or EVEN TWO!!!) pharmacist in every GP surgery. Wow. Thats going to buffer the oversupply.....(Not.)

3. Kind of ashamed that C&D printed this drivvle considering untrained eyes (eg govt) will say oh well if one of the leading (COUGH) pharmacy chains says no, it must be right.

And I end my rant :-) And my future chances of employment.
So heres to a life of JSA and free Rx's.

Brian Perry, Locum pharmacist

The only constructive solution is to "put the word on the street". Many recently graduated or registered pharmacists must have siblings or relatives doing "A" levels. If these are brought to realise that pharmacy sucks and spread this among their friends, applications will soon tail off.

R A, Community pharmacist

Dear Mr Tobin,

If you really sincerely believe that we should have a free market for jobs than would you support a free market for opening up your own pharmacy without jumping through the hoops of market entry for a standard 40 hours? My guess is your answer would be no on that matter so much for free market eh?

geoffrey gardener, Community pharmacist

Increasing the number of places, results in a falling in the entry requirements, if salaries continue to fall better qualified applicants will start to look elsewhere compounding the problem.

Shabs A, Community pharmacist

I'm totally gobsmacked by this story. Time to start up private clinics and prescribing. Let's become GPs instead and practice medicine of the 18th century!

Gordon Mackenzie, Community pharmacist

The RPS Faculty should develop or purchase modules in all medical specialities and sell them to pharmacists so that we can stand in for GPs. This may be necessary in any case, as despite the massive salaries which doctors get, according to this week's Pulse magazine GPs are queuing up to get even higher salaries and shorter hours in Australia and New Zealand. There is already a shortage of GPs but a massive oversupply of pharmacists whose skills will be wasted if pharmacy doesn't become part of medicine with the same opportunities available to us as to medics.

Shabs A, Community pharmacist

That's a good idea or take our own routes individually such as advanced practitioner training and the likes. This would work well and we could also contract privately so we as pharmacists get paid rather than being ransacked by multiples and other contractors who rake in the cash and happily avoid remuneration the pharmacist who carried out the task in the first place.

BL E, Primary care pharmacist

Why would Lloyds want a cap? The more pharmacists there are means they can easily replace the ones they work into the ground in their prescription factories.

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

Well It has been a great week for the Pharmacy profession, firstly Day Lewis with their Second Pharmacist Role new's and now this !
When we have people like this in charge and have the ear of the government who need enemies.
But it was ever thus Pharmacy will always shaft its own !!

David Miller, Hospital pharmacist

Congratulations Mr Tobin for your change of heart I as a hospital pharmacist in a sector growing at around 4% per year can total endorse and agree with your statement.

"As the chief executive of the company who needs these quality skills, I'm not frightened by oversupply because I don't think there will be. I think things are going to happen out there that will drive [oversupply] back out again,"

hopefully this means you and your colleagues in the major multiples will now reverse and going forward will totally modify your decision to reduce the number of pre-registration places in your pharmacies. As currently there will clearly be an excess of pharmacy graduates but with the lack of registration training places mean they will not be able to register as pharmacists to support your “clinical” vision.

Having a service where pharmacists spend over 95% of their time in clinical activities outwith a dispensary I totally agree that

pharmacy's "skill set will move" away from dispensing into more clinical roles, leading to a greater demand for pharmacists. If this healthcare model was properly funded it would create a "new demand" for pharmacists

and part of that requires to maintain our success that the future quality of pharmacy entrants will need to be maintained and enhanced, funding will need to be increased to almost double pre-registration places in the short term and a move to a more clinically focused integrated degree with extensive practice placements. These potential entrants will also need to see a professionally satisfying and to an extent relatively financially rewarding for their own on-going personal investment. I am cheered and welcome your inferred support to deliver this model in the interests of patients and welcome you on-board.

Being committed to the NHS I believe in public sector values and I must - as we are both being honest and open - state I am less a total supporter of the free market but I note your statement

A "free market" would encourage entrepreneurship among young pharmacists, who would "challenge the status quo" and produce better ways of caring for patients

I therefore wonder if that means that as these new clinical roles develop in primary care you will also support a system that will allow these young pharmacists (with appropriate quality safeguards) to individually or collectively obtain this “business” without the need for an existing NHS pharmacy contract? As a hospital pharmacist I may be wrong but I understand the obtaining of existing NHS dispensing contracts, which I can totally understand and support on the basis of ensuring better distribution and wider access for patients, are not open to the market?

Wow looking for to the weekend ahead ———— Oh is that the alarm clock ringing?

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

Pardon my french but Cormac Tobin and his like are full of S*it. He'd do well in parliament.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

As I keep saying Pharmacy is dead. Why the hell would any young person with half a brain bother studying this utterly useless course. Pharmacy has not one redeeming feature I can name. The leaders and big business continue to nail their fellow colleagues(ordinary Pharmacists ) to the wall with apparent glee.

But remember no situation is permanent. Sooner than we may imagine the we may all be ruing the demise this so called profession and wondering how it came to this.
Everyother subject discussed on this site is completely irrelevant and of no interest when this is how Pharmacists are being treated.

Pharmacy RIP

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Let me rephrase what he means.

A cap would mean that Lloyds would have to pay their pharmacists more. Lifting the cap means they can be paid at minimum wage and worked like dogs.

Sandra Gidley, Community pharmacist

They are worked like dogs already :-(

Perhaps the delightful Mr Tobin might reveal his qualifications, earnings and also where and how much income tax he pays?

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

The love of money is the root of all evil.

Another Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Does Mr Tobin really believe this? To put forward a view that flies in the face of the considered opinion of most leading bodies in the pharmacy field is crass, ignorant and contemptuous. We know why you oppose a cap ..... to reduce costs and boost profits (and your bonus)!

Peter McAuley, Community pharmacist

A number of years ago when we had the 'fallow year' of no graduates when the pharmacy course increased to 4 years, Lloyds recruited heavily from Spain, which had a glut of pharmacists, because they did the same thing.
Say no more.

Clinical Pharmacist, Hospital pharmacist

Lloyds pharmacy forever wrecking pharmacy

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

how will all these students ever get to become '' pharmacists'' when there isn't enough pre-reg places. And what to the qualified ones do while waiting for government to fund these extra roles.... We've been promised these changes for years !

Farm Assistant, Community pharmacist

Mr Tobin, I find your comments offensive and a disgrace to your so called peers. Please don't insult my intelligence as I do have a (now worthless) degree in pharmacy. I am old enough to believe in karma and know that human beings are judged on how they treat the weak. Remember Mr Tobin one day you will be weak. Is this really what pharmacy has become? I hope you are proud of yourself.

Sandra Gidley, Community pharmacist

I don't know whether to laugh or cry!
The evidence (from people I know within Lloyds) is that newly qualified pharmacists are being offered lower and lower salaries and I know for a fact that locum rates have dropped. The only unsustainability I can see is that the salaries will become unsustainably low and people will leave the profession in droves.
Somebody should remind Mr Tobin of the old adage that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.

Paul Samuels, Community pharmacist

Mr Tobin has no idea what the real world is about--all he sees is profit/loss--your monkey analogy is spot on--however the supply of peanuts might dry up & then you have no monkeys!

M Yang, Community pharmacist

Perhaps Mr Tobin us secretly a supporter of the student cap? Given enough time and enough people leaving the profession, we could end up with a shortage of Pharmacists. A malthusian limit, of sorts.

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

newly qualified pharmacists would look to move abroad when they qualified, because their skills were in demand in other countries.

Basically in nice words...they will be no jobs here for you.look elsewhere or become an entrepreneur a.ka jobless.....

No one is fighting for pharmacist s its a shame

Shilpa Tank, Pre-reg graduate

I totally agree with you! I am a recently qualified pharmacist (registered beginning of sept) and I am looking for work but feeling disheartened not only by the number of jobs available but some of the offered salaries. I am beginning to regret the 5 years of hard work including the very difficult pre-registration year. At the end of all of this, I am still struggling to gain experience and can confidently say that I was disillusioned by what I thought would be a great career.

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

The open market favours the contractors, IE BIG BUSINESS...

vote UKIP.......!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sami Khaderia, Non healthcare professional

Would LLoyds support an open market???

Me thinks not

What a hypocrite....

Shaun Hockey, Community pharmacist

A "free market" would encourage entrepreneurship among young pharmacists, who would "challenge the status quo" and produce better ways of caring for patients, Mr Tobin said. Fantastic. So we can count on Lloyds Pharmacy to fight our corner and tear down the restriction to entrepreneurship that is, Control on Entry?

David Kent, Community pharmacist

An expected response from a company which has a vested interest in oversupply leading to wage reduction.

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