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PDA: Multiple pushing older pharmacists to leave

Mr Pitt: The funding cuts might have sped up the cull of older, more expensive pharmacists
Mr Pitt: The funding cuts might have sped up the cull of older, more expensive pharmacists

The Pharmacists' Defence Association (PDA) has seen a “spike in queries” from “older” pharmacists who are being accused of conduct issues to encourage them to exit an unnamed multiple.

The PDA is calling for pharmacists working at “one particular pharmacy multiple” to get in touch if they are contacted by management and offered an exit package from the organisation, director of defence services Mark Pitt told C+D.

In an announcement published on the PDA’s website last Friday (July 14), the association said it had seen an “unusual increase in the number of cases” of “longer-serving pharmacists” – aged forty and above – being called to meetings “with no notice”, where management raise “alleged performance or conduct issues”.

“Under the guise of a ‘without prejudice’ discussion, the management then offer the alternative of either a disciplinary process or an exit from the business with some small payment of compensation,” the PDA said in its announcement.

Mr Pitt told C+D the PDA does not wish to name the multiple at this stage. “We are waiting for an explanation from the superintendent at present,” he said.

Funding cuts speed up “cull” of pharmacists

Mr Pitt said “a lot” of pharmacists working for “other large employers” have also come forward with similar concerns, since the PDA flagged the issue with its members.

“Anecdotally, it is something we have suspected for a long time, but possibly the pharmacy [funding] cuts have sped up the cull of older, more expensive pharmacists,” he suggested.

“Employers don’t seem to appreciate the value that experienced pharmacists bring to their business, in terms of expertise and a knowledge base which significantly benefits patients and the business,” he added.

Feeling the pressure of the funding cuts?

Have you noticed an increase in pressure at work as the funding cuts have started to 'bite'? Have you been asked to reduce your hours or increase the number of medicines use reviews? Or has a change of ownership affected your pharmacy?

Share your story with C+D by emailing us at this address with the subject "pharmacy pressures". We will respect all requests for anonymity.

Please provide as much detail as possible, including the relevant town or region.

Are you an older pharmacist concerned about your future career?

janet revers, Community pharmacist

   Although not as structured  I feel that this may be happening  in another "large multiple" as well. It has happened to me and I am incredibly upset about it. I had ten minutes notice of an "off the record meeting" . When I attended it they accused me of a patient safety incident on the word of a dispenser who proceeded to deny it! I do not wish to blow my trumpet but it was this pharmacist who raised the safety profile of this shop  from completely off the bottom to near the top in the region. I was also accused of unprofessional behavior and performance issues were raised. This was all despite having worked for a number of years with two previous managers who never complained once about me.

     After thoroughly knocking me off my guard, they suggested did I like my job to which I responded "no" and then they asked me how big was my pension and could I leave !!!??? I felt all the time they were encouraging me to think about my future . I did not want to ruin my "unblemished record"....

       Luckily I have been taken on by another area so the PDA said I should just let it lie. They also said it was not going to go to a disciplinary because there was not a strong case against me and I had some grounds for a grievance.

        I am sure it is because I am earning the higher range for relief pharmacists because of my age and the conversation happened a week after another flood of newly qualifieds arrived.



Paul Dishman, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Best advice my late father gave me was never to work for Boots, delighted I followed it. You have to feel sorry for the people who gave them 40 years faithful service only to be dumped on

Honest Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

You know I read this article and got the email from the PDA and I thought "this could be happening to me? I think they're trying to push me out". But I didn't think they'd actually "call me in for a quick chat to ask me a few questions, nothing to worry about". Then just a couple of weeks later they're actually doing it....pending "further investigations" Thing is I can prove them wrong, and that is EXACTLY what I am going to do, because their "investigations" will only disprove their accusations!

Yes I am disappointed with them, and yes I am angry, but i'm also determined to take them on and fight this because what they are doing is wrong. I may just be one person, but sometimes it just takes one person to make a change, and I can't sit back or walk away because I have my reputation to think of, and if we all did that then we'd be in a sorry state of affairs.

So when they realise their accusations are wrong, they will also be told by me all the other mistakes that they have made along the way. You see, I'm one of those pharmacists that over the years HAS broadened their knowledge of HR and management, I haven't said "that's not my job" which I would guess many of the newly qualified pharmacists do because they're just getting used to the responsibility of being a pharmacist before anything else, which I totally understand. In fact I feel for any newly qualified starting out in this world, I want to tell them to run a mile and do something different because pharmacy is not the job it once was.

My advice to any pharmacist is to a) become a member of the PDA, b) don't ever think it won't happen to you, c) watch your back every step of the way and d) stand up for what you believe is right!

janet revers, Community pharmacist

I hope you suceed. Good luck


Honest Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Thanks! Well I fought it and won! So to anyone that thinks they won't be heard, just try it, and don't let them beat you! These people are not above the law!



Svetla Dimitrova, Hospital pharmacist

I changed completely my area of work. The attitude in that Well Known  pharmacy multiple was disgusting. It is a shame for the profession , we are people with scientific interests and public trust - to be treated like criminals with disciplinary procedures. I did not allow that, left the rat in the garbage rummaging for a lost label to "prove"  loss of confidentiality ! 

Shenu Barclay, Community pharmacist


How High?, Community pharmacist

Another thought.

I would reccomend that any pharmacist or manager who is invited for an "informal chat" at short notice and without the company's own guidelines being followed does the following.

1. Record the conversations on an iphone or similar.

2. Ensure that it is recorded in writing by the note taker that they have attended the meeting in good faith and if threatened in any way would prefer a postponement in order to organise representation.

3. Following the conservation, email the Superintendent and update them as to what has taken place


Grumpy Pharm, Community pharmacist

I have to endorse this approach as when something similar happenned to me a few years back i did go in with a recorder, causing real concern to the individual high on his own importance, and as i had already verified with regional HR that it was ok to do so, benefits of being older with contacts, he could say nothing and suddenly the issue just evaporated, and even later when he thought he could rewrite history i just had to remind him of the tape and as Billy Connolly says " his face was shut", adverserail yes but oh so necessary.

Julie Friday, Accuracy checking technician

I just don't know how Boots is getting away with this. I is absolutely disgusting.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

It's quite easy when the government is complicit.

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

Money + Power = Influence

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

As with all multiples, they have a member of their team on the GPhC panel. Someone who will look after their interests.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Don't be afraid, you can suggest a whiff of corruption.

How High?, Community pharmacist

Well, well, well

Fancy that!!


"I can get pharmacists for £15 per hour. You can have 3 months pay and go now or we can carry on with the disciplinary process"

Said the Regional Development Manager after HR had left the room.... 

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

I've had the same thing happen to me, where I've been threatened with the disciplinary process and spoken to like sh**.  In response to your comment about recording the conversation on an iphone, if you record the conversation without your managers knowledge then it's not allowed to be used, but in my experience the truth actually comes out when they don't know they are being recorded.

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Yes , but you just need to ensure you get it as a transcript and if challenged in a tribunal, (and tribunals are another pile of old pap as unless you are in a union; which I recommend;), based on a balance of probability the tribunal members will see through it And if they deny it then let them know in a round about way you may have accidently had you phone on record lolx

Sharon Stone, Communications

Yeah, I presume we are all on the same page i.e " Boots " . Terrible company, just don't know how they get away with it.  

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

This is inevitable when new schools of pharmacies are producing an excessive amount of graduates - fulfilment of dreams by multiples. Why has there been no coherent manpower planning for the last 40 years, probably about the average professional life of a pharmacist?

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Its funny how before I even finished the article I already knew which particular multiple was being mentioned. And I was not the only one. Well well well. Like they say, your reputation precedes you

Sharon Stone, Communications

Noooooooooo. 10 years life span at the most at Boots . Don't forget they get shut of old stock.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

I'm not sure the origin of the differences between age groups is that the younger group is more tolerant of 'bullying' or 'poor' conditions/ remuneration. 

My experience has been that younger pharmacists enter the profession with totally different expectations  and attitudes and so do not perceive things in the same way. Anecdotally, it appears to me that younger pharmacists are cultured to work to targets (teach to test?) and make decisions according to operating procedures/rules (health and safety extremism?). Graduates generally have much lower wage expectations now that so many people have degrees and so many jobs (however facile) expect one. More specific to pharmacy, a near doubling of pharmacy schools has certainly  opened up the degree to a 'broader range of abilities' and 'natural aptitudes', we should then expect a change in sensibilities amongst pharmacists. 

When discussing expectations and fairness, I don't think older pharmacists will get as much agreement from younger pharmacists as they might expect. I could be wrong, but I am guessing the differences are much more ingrained than many think. Many younger pharmacists might wonder what us older pharmacists are complaining about. 

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

You forget they've had 4 years of lies/propaaganda/indoctrination at university. By the time the graduate many are perfect automatons/fodder for the multiples. They think 4 weeks annual holiday is the employer doing them a favour.

Julie Friday, Accuracy checking technician


Julie Friday, Accuracy checking technician

If its the multiple i think it is they are puushing all old staff whatever their job role out.

Karen Hemingway, Pharmacy technician

well  I would say we are all being bullied !



sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

I really don't know what the PDA or indeed the GPHC can do about this even if there is evidence for it....There was overwhelming evidence of MUR bullying last year but has anything changed that much in terms of punishments handed out...? I think not...I really dont have much faith that the PDA can do anything about this as well meaning as they are...Sorry guys, hope you can prove me wrong....

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

This does not come as a surprise, and if it is the multiple I suspect it is - it is not confined to pharmacists alone. There has been a gradual decline in "older workforce" in the dispensary generally - experienced dispensers, counter assistants, healthcare assistants. In fact, I do remember raising this as a comment on one of the C & D articles (think it was under understaffing). It's the sinister way that the world of pharmacy now seems to be operating under. Considering that nothign was done about MURs, one wonders how far this will be taken by the forces that be - very sad state of things.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Your first and only loyalty is to yourself. Certainly not to the scummy job.

Brian Austen, Senior Management

Organisations that are allegedley acting in this way are leaving themselves open to age discrimination claims and/or unfair dismissal! Don't let them get away with it. Take them to a tribunal if necessary. They will soon change their attitude.


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