Last week (June 5) screenshots of emails apparently sent by Rowlands that said locums were required to source their own PPE were shared by pharmacists on social media.
One of the emails – under a heading addressing “all locums” – said that “Rowlands do not provide PPE”.
The email added that it was “mandatory that PPE is worn when social distancing cannot be adhered to” and that, should locum pharmacists arrive for bookings without PPE, it would “result in future bookings being cancelled”.
So, this was shared on a locum platform, while #Pharmacists literally risk their lives to support patients we have multimillion pound companies who, not only deny #ppe to #locum #Pharmacists but also threaten them. This company also claims to "care" about its Pharmacists. pic.twitter.com/7VZALp8kRy— The Pharmacist Cooperative (@PharmacistCoop) June 5, 2020
The message sparked outrage on social media. One pharmacist on Twitter commented: "That is way out of line. I am sure the patients who use this pharmacy would see this as appalling."
Another said: "This is shocking. Surely they have a duty to look after staff under HSE guidance."
Rowlands told C+D yesterday (June 8) that there had been some "confusion" over its stance. “All colleagues working in our pharmacies – which of course includes locums - have full access to PPE in line with Government and regulatory advice," a spokesperson said.
A part-time locum who wishes to remain anonymous claimed to C+D last week (June 5) that Rowlands had sent “multiple emails” on Friday that contained the same message as the one shared on Twitter.
"If a Rowlands Pharmacy regular pharmacist was on duty the day the locum was then they would be using PPE instead so what’s the difference in a locum using it," they asked.
A second email apparently sent by the company, also shared in screenshots on social media last week, said that “locum pharmacists should provide their own PPE whilst working for Rowlands Pharmacy as per the locum agreement”.
Full email for your reference. Their regular staff are able to use the PPE but the locum is being threatened to bring their own or risk future bookings being cancelled! pic.twitter.com/BKZ5dvZuiQ— Upton79 (@pharming247) June 5, 2020
Another email seen by C+D that appears to have been sent on behalf of Rowlands managing director Mark Bather last week (June 6) said the multiple had received “significant feedback and requests for clarification about its “recent note on PPE”. The email said the multiple had subsequently “reviewed our policy” and would “amend with immediate effect”.
The email offered Mr Bather's “sincere apologies for the issues caused” and added that Rowlands would “continue to work with our locums to ensure, where possible, we are able to provide face masks, hand sanitiser, gloves and gowns”.
Rowlands told C+D yesterday (June 8) that it had addressed any "confusion" over the issue by making it clear to locums that they will be given PPE when working for Rowlands.
The spokesperson added that Rowlands has "clarified the policy and communication in light of feedback received”.
“Over the last few days, we informed locum colleagues that we will make PPE available to them. We will amend the contract accordingly, but right now our approach is clear: if PPE is required, it will be provided,” they said.