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Lloydspharmacy staff told to reduce working hours

PDA Union: Lloydspharmacy expects employees to voluntarily agree to reduce working hours
PDA Union: Lloydspharmacy expects employees to voluntarily agree to reduce working hours

Lloydspharmacy is expecting each branch to reduce its staffing by “around five hours per week” to meet “payroll challenges”, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) Union has claimed.

“A number of members” contacted the union last month to inform them that the multiple is expecting employees to voluntarily agree to reduce their working hours, PDA Union assistant general secretary Mark Pitt told C+D today (April 10).

Responding to the claims, Richard James, head of central operations for Lloydspharmacy, said: "Good business practice requires us to respond to market factors and changing customer behaviour."

As such, the multiple “regularly reviews staffing levels to ensure our colleagues are available at the best time, in the best place for our customers”, Mr James said.

“These reviews may require us to increase or decrease hours in our stores," he added.

Lloydspharmacy did not confirm the number of hours each branch would be expected to cut, or whether locum hours would be included.

In a letter sent to members working for the multiple on March 30 – and seen by C+D – the PDA Union claimed Lloydspharmacy managers may have to decide which employees will have their hours cut if volunteers do not come forward.

PDA patient safety concerns

The union also expressed “concern” that any reduction in staffing hours would increase the workload for remaining pharmacy staff, and could compromise patient safety.

“Members are reminded that as responsible pharmacists...if the resources available in the pharmacy put the safe operation of the pharmacy at risk, they will be held personally responsible in the event of an error or complaint to the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC),” the union warned in its letter.

Mr Pitt said “a couple” of members have since contacted the union to say they have resigned from Lloydspharmacy because of “ongoing workplace pressures” at the multiple.

“Unfortunately this could be the shape of things to come, because of the funding cuts,” Mr Pitt added.

The union advised any members "who feel under undue pressure to voluntarily reduce their hours" to contact it for individual advice.

Staffing levels and workplace pressures: the headlines

The GPhC confirmed in October 2016 that inspectors will continue to monitor pharmacies’ staffing levels, despite increased financial pressures caused by the funding cuts in England.

Earlier this year, Cormac Tobin, managing director of Lloydspharmacy parent company Celesio UK, told C+D he could not promise that no staff will lose their jobs as a result of the funding cuts. Read more here.

Have you been asked to reduce your working hours?

Mayur Shah, Community pharmacist

guess what much does a worker on the supermarket check out (with hardly any responsibilities) earn ...compared to what a pharmacist is being will find out that the difference is around £6-8 per hour... and you will begin to realise  that no one values the pharmacist despite taking on all that amount of professional resposibility in their everyday work, so much more expected tasks and receiving hardly any appreciation, being misunderstood and least supported by their own professional and governing bodies,. it will be an understatement to say the moral is at its lowest point.. many independents can't make reasonable profit and hence the staff cuts,  and multiples with every aim to increase their margins, working on skeleton staff , reducing further the rates they pay the pharmacist.... shame shame shame...pharmacists have been sold short by their own ....

Pharmacists and independent pharmacies need to make their voices heard louder and clearer....they cannot remain  idle any more ...


Honest Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

As a pharmacist-pharmacy manager (without another employed pharmacist at my 100 hour store), I was told to lose all of my pharmacist overlap back in November; 8 hours per week, which I had been given from Sainsbury's in order to have a handover with the locums and carry out managerial work like schedules, pharmacist rotas, colleague training, colleague reviews and action emails etc. etc. At least Sainsbury's knew, and cared more, about patient safety, and the fact that in a busy pharmacy an RP should be focusing on patients first and emails second.

I had already lost most of my work-life balance after Lloyds took over on the 1st September, but by the end of November I had lost it completely. I naively thought that the change in ownership wouldn't affect us too much, after all we had been told it wouldn't, and as Lloyds are the 2nd biggest pharmacy multiple in the UK, well I thought they would know what they are doing. But I couldn't have been more wrong if I had tried! I have now realised just how much Lloyds fool the public (as they did me), and unfortunately pharmacists, and the important work we do, doesn't seem to catch the public eye the way the news of other professionals do.

As long as we sign the SOPs then Lloyds are happy because it covers them if anything goes wrong. They also use "Safer Care" as another way to protect themselves and to lay blame at the RP should there be a dispensing incident. They don't seem to care about their colleagues or customers, it's all about profit and shareholders, I just hope and pray that someone with some standing (like Mr. Pitt from the PDA), will be able to do something to stop this as they don't seem to be listening to us. 

Why is it that the GPhC can blame us for the working conditions when it should be the company themselves? After all it is Lloyds that set the staffing levels and the environment we have to work in. Why does the GPhC not set some staffing levels for companies and owners to abide by? The GPhC executive Duncan Rudkin says it falls on the RP to demonstrate during an inspection that the pharmacy is properly staffed and colleagues properly trained, and he says that the funding cuts should not affect staffing levels, but does not state what these levels should be. How can this be right!? And if he says that the GPhC is not responsible for this then who is? How can we be blamed when we physically haven't been given the time to train colleagues, and we don't have enough staff? Do we have anybody to support us in order to bring these multiples to account? How are they not the ones that are accountable for the running of their businesses? I don't know any other profession that has a body to regulate them, (but by no means supports them), and yet does not clearly set out the regulations (e.g. exact staffing levels relative the prescriptions dispensed), to ensure they are followed. Is there anybody out there that cares and that can do something about this?


Bina Patel, Industrial pharmacist

They already operate on skeleton staff and always seem to be cutting hours on top! This is not great for patient safety and just adds undue pressure to all staff. Community pharmacy has come to sad times. I left 3 years ago to join industry, best move I made in terms of work-life balance. Love being a pharmacist but the support just isn't there any more from these big companies. 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Lloyds have this strange business pattern to them. I've noticed it a few times. They go on a massive spending spree, then cut back loads. Seems a very unstable way of conducting one's business?

Paulash Haider, Hospital pharmacist

Agree with all those comments about the state of play in community pharmacy. I saw this coming 15 years ago, and left a lucrative locum pharmacist career to move into hospital pharmacy at the bottom of the career ladder. It was a huge drop in income at the time but I saw the picture, and now I earn substantially more in hospital than I would in the community setting. Incidently an article was published in the C&D about my career change ( which recieved mixed comments, particularly some which 'mocked' my reasoning and that community pharmacy was well paid and that is the most important factor.

Community pharmacy has to evolve or it will face extinction in its current form, some of the larger multiples are already looking at providing more clinical services and working alongside hospitals to improve outcomes for patients



Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Absolutely right and well done to you for seeing which way the wind is blowing. I've done the same and although I'm still technically in community pharmacy it's in a GP owned hybrid pharmacy so is pretty safe.

With the pressure everybody is feeling it's all the more important that every single individual focuses on their own health and wellbeing. My are: Cold showers and gym memberships; take regularly complete the prescribed course (lifelong)

La Dakinio, Community pharmacist

I finally left community pharmacy as I couldn't take the stress anymore. Lack of staff and lack of trained staff added to the mounting pressure. Things are going to go wrong and I want to be no part of it when it gets really bad. Already my branch was cracking at the seams, a few minor errors did happen - add in the pressure from angry customers, idiot area managers, overworked staff out of their depths etc and I could see right in front of me the impending disaster. Cutting more hours is not the answer.

Sarah Smythe, Information Technology

You made a good choice leaving community pharmacy . Everything you say is 100% correct and further more each day you wonder if you're going to be attacked , threatened or abused . Dreadful job , more people should resign if they can rather than stick it out.

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

I'm in agreement, I left and it's the best thing I ever did. At first I wasn't too sure as community was the only thing I had known but as soon as I started in my new job, I kicked myself for not getting out of there quicker. I feel like there is always another option, you don't have to stuck in community forever.

Joaquim Filipe, Locum pharmacist

What's your new job??

La Dakinio, Community pharmacist

I now work as a practice pharamcist. I really went all out to try to get into that field - not something I thought would be possible as my clinical knowledge is a bit rusty. Work environment now is hugely improved. I feel valued and I am been given the time, space and encouragement to get up to speed clinically. I'm not sure what the future holds but I'd rather take the risk of seeing where practice pharamcy goes than have a nervous breakdown! 

Christopher Ruane, Community pharmacist

Did you proceed to ip course straight away or move through some other clinical materials first?

La Dakinio, Community pharmacist

My new employers will fund me through a clinical diploma if that's what I want to do, then IP, or I can go straight into IP. Think I'll do the diploma first

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

I also work as a practice pharmacist now. I had been talking about wanting to be a prescriber for the last few years and after having a horrid time in community I took the plunge and handed my notice in. I feel alot better in myself and actually feel as though I'm using the knowledge I had built up at Uni. There are also opportunities to upskill and specialise in different areas ie Urgent care, Acute illness. These are all things that other practice pharmacists are doing currently. The future can only be positive.

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

Its funny that they had money to buy 280 Sainsburys branches though, but now asking to reduce staffing hours in store. Lloyds have been selling off alot of there stores around the midlands and in one area I have seen them sell or close about 8/9 stores in the space of 10years. Wouldn't be surprised if some stores did merge together but I do feel sorry for the staff who may be affected by this.

Pharmacies are becoming are very tough environment to work in and I used to feel like this a while back in my previous job, I can only imagine what it is like now. A few of the colleagues I have kept in touch with have told me that things have got worse since last year and that's before being told to reduce hours.

Lucas Perez, Student

Yes times are hard...I've told my staff, use toilet paper on both sides. Audit every 1/4 and send results to greenpeace/friends of the earth 

O J, Community pharmacist

Cuzzy my muzzy don't u use the bad boy Lota?

D Edwards, Hospital pharmacist

This is very predictable. Do not stand for it. Find another job or train to do something else. I know it is hard to do thos things, but the expectations are now completely unrealistic. The grass isnt much greener in the NHS, but at least you usually have good teams.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Good that the PDA is focusing on this issue. It is a shame that the GPhC is so silent in this area, why don't they regulate things that matter? Is the GPhC fit for purpose?

Lucas Perez, Student

I've heard that lloyds pharmacy are prepared to merge with other llloyds branches but want reassurance from government that no one else will be given a licence to open one in the same town. 

In Chatteris Cambs there are two lloyds Pharmacy, hence one would close saving the government money and reducing wage costs for Lloyds. 

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

Makes you wonder how they managed to get those millions and millions together when they took over Sainsburys... Plenty of money in the bank, just wanting to fatten the pockets of the shareholders further.

fatnose pansies, Sales

"These reviews may require us to increase or decrease hours in our stores," he added. What he didn't say was that this is only theoretical, but in reality every pharmacy will lose hours, though if one does happen to gain, chances are it should have had those hours in the first place.

Why do they insult the intelligence of their staff like that?

Lucas Perez, Student

I am very fortunate. I qualified over 20 years ago . I really feel for those that are qualifying in August and those studying pharmacy. If any one of you are reading this, jump ship before it's too late. You will be the slave of lloyds pharmacy !! 

Dave Downham, Manager

What's wrong Ajaz? Fancied another change of name?


O J, Community pharmacist

Yes. my mussy fudge is back!He is the cuzzy of all the C&D blogs. INNIT BRO!!!!

Lucas Perez, Student

I applaud those staff that have resigned. But due to mass uncontrollable immigration by liebour, there is an excess of locums who will just cover the shifts. 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Hi again, Ajaz/Mesut/Ben/whoever you are at the moment.

Just wondering if you were frightened by a locum as a child. You seem to have a real chip on your shoulder about them.

Lucas Perez, Student

Nope, did very well as a Locum thank you very much . 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

So did I (for a while) but to now take advantage of the beleaguered ones that are left is plain wrong. We ALL need locums - one has got me out of a hole for next week (paid £23 per hour) - and if they are priced out of the market everyone will suffer, the small independents most of all.


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