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Pharmacy owners have worst work-life balance, C+D finds

Exclusive Preliminary results from the C+D Salary Survey 2013 have revealed that contractors rate their work-life balance significantly lower than employee pharmacists and locums, which experts are attributing to the tough economic climate

The majority of pharmacists sufferi a poor work-life balance, with contractors faring worse than employees and locums, preliminary results from the C+D Salary Survey 2013 have revealed.  

More than nine in 10 contractors rated their work-life balance as five or below in a 10-point scale, with 10 indicating a completely healthy balance, in a question answered by 563 respondents.  

Around six in 10 employees and locums believed their work-life balance was on the bottom half of the scale. Fifteen per cent of locums rated their work-life balance as completely healthy compared with 8 per cent of employees and no contractors. 

Industry leaders said pharmacy owners were particularly vulnerable to the effects of the tough economic climate and warned that the situation could get worse. Contractors needed to work "a lot harder" for the same amount of money, Independent Pharmacy Federation chair Fin McCaul told C+D. "Generally speaking, pharmacists are not hiring new staff, letting people go and are doing more of the work themselves," he said.

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Numark director of pharmacy Mimi Lau said work often spilled into home life for many independent contractors. "Single-handed contractors or those with a small number of outlets are most affected, whereas those owners of large pharmacy groups may have a head office team that can provide additional support," she explained.  

"I fear that, unless contractors get the support they need to strike the right work-life balance, more dissatisfaction will come from the profession as we head into 2014," Ms Lau added.  

Amish Patel, owner of Hodgson Pharmacy, Kent, said his life was "more work than play". The volume of work was increasingly encroaching on his weekends, he told C+D, but stressed that he was careful to make time for his family.  

Donna Obstfeld, managing director of HR consultancy firm DOHR, said people were typically working longer and harder across all industries. "The question is always do we work to live or live to work, and I doubt there are many who would say we have this balance absolutely right," Ms Obstfeld said.  

"With an increasing need to compete with 24-hour supermarkets, all retailers are trying to open longer hours to increase flexibility for customers," she explained. "Whereas staff may be on shifts and not working more than the 48-hour weeks, pharmacists – like other business owners – will do what it takes to keep their business profitable and servicing the community."  

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How do you achieve a work-life balance?

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Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

The results are presented in an awkward way - someone scoring their work/life balance as 1 probably feels very differently than someone who scored it 5, yet above they're presented in the same group.

If 90% of contractors scored themselves 5 then it would give a completely different picture.

Gemma Collins, Non healthcare professional

Thanks for your comment - you make a very good point! Here is a breakdown of the figures:

1: 13%
2-3: 57%
4 -5: 22%
6-7: 4%
8-9: 4%
10: 0%

1: 12%
2-3: 26%
4-5: 25%
6-7: 12%
8-9: 10%
10: 15%

1: 13%
2-3: 27%
4-5: 26%
10: 8%


Leon The Apothecary, Student

I agree. Could this be presesnted in a more less generalised way please?

Susan M Shepherd, Community pharmacist

I am not surprised at the results.
As an employee or area manager, we see increased workload from script numbers, services and managing a tight budget. For a pharmacy owner there is not just the day to day work in the pharmacy that is increasing, but the huge volume of red tape that goes on behind the scenes.
The general business operations: rates, tax, VAT, insurance, paying the bills, wages,and all the work associated, change regularly as the government introduces new rules. (eg
real time reporting of PAYE, changes to tax credits)
Purchasing your stock at the best profit (after all profit is what keeps the business operating) .
The GPhC - paperwork and inspections
Clinical governance, EPS compliance, business continuity planning in case of pandemic, complaints auditing, annual customer audit, local business forum, etc.
NHS contract monitoring and the Community Pharmacy Assurance Framework. ( more paperwork and inspections, hooray)
Getting the correct payments from the NHSBA
Health and Safety and Fire Safety audits (yet more paperwork and inspections)
Claiming payment for all those different services from NHS England, the local council, CCG, social services, private care homes, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.
Recruiting and retaining staff, then training them. All the while worrying if there is sufficient money to pay them as retail incomes fall.
Then can you afford to heat and light your pharmacy this winter. That tight budget you try and work to? Someone has to set it.
So the multiples, with their head office teams, grow while the independent sector shrinks.

M Yang, Community pharmacist

I'm genuinely interested in hearing it from a pharmacy owner. Is it as stressful as say, being a manager in a multiple? Please forgive my ignorance but I always imagined that as your own boss you at least had a degree of control that those working for the multiples lacked. I can count numerous times at the shoe company when a pharmacist manager moaned about not having enough hours in the budget to pay for dispensers and front counter assistants. The work piles up that little more day after day. Of course, independents are probably feeling the effects of recession too but at least on a psychological level you know that you hold the reins and not some area manager who is dictating the budget.

Hitesh Patel, Community pharmacist

Not a exhaustive list but here go's:

-Staff pull a sicky(always a Friday or Monday?)
-Locum dispenses Rilutek instead of Riluzole-ouch! £520 loss instantly
-Mother bangs into front glass framless door ,dislodges, can't lock in the evening, have to
call out lock smith,£170 plus VAT.
-End of the month coming, do all pay roll, VAT returns and management accounts-accountant charges upto £500 per month can't afford.
This was last week only!
Oh, no mention of any obligations at home and family!!!


Staff pull a sicky(always a Friday or Monday?)
Give a warning and replace staff if pattern arises

Locum dispenses Rilutek instead of Riluzole-ouch! £520 loss instantly
Why is a locum dispensing!!!!!!!!!!! serves you right for penny pinching!!!!

Mother bangs into front glass framless door ,dislodges, can't lock in the evening, have to
call out lock smith,£170 plus VAT.
CALLED insurance sir

-End of the month coming, do all pay roll, VAT returns and management accounts-accountant charges upto £500 per month can't afford.
£500 a month - yeh right.......It's clear you have no business sense SIR

Oh, no mention of any obligations at home and family!!!
Majority of pharmacists have familes

here endth the lesson

Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist

what does non healthcare professional mean?

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Contractors complaining again. Owning any business demands commitment, drive and vast amounts of time. Why should Pharmacy contractors be any different to other businesses.

Contractors demand to be paid for every small increase in workload or regulatory burden as they put it, but then are grumbling about this paid work. If the tax paying public saw the accounts of the vast majority of independents they would be shocked by the excessive profits.

Hitesh Patel, Community pharmacist

Reply to S Moron(freudian slip)

And how in hell did you see these audited accounts for the "vast majority" of independents?
I can tell you it will not be from dispening amoxicillin all day!
This is why the are contractors and not employees!

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager


Thanks for the reply.

Try looking at sites such as duedil, companies house or any of the transfer agents for that matter.

Hope that helps


Sounds about right........


Locums have had no pay rise in 4 plus years..........!!!
yet work load has doubled.......!!!

Hitesh Patel, Community pharmacist

Your career choice!
Stop Whinging!


recently spoke to an optician
£37 PER HR
Good luck to them.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
THE ADVANTAGE OF CONTROLLING optom numbers - only 7 schools....

Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist

was he/she working for specsavers? or boots?or independent
and which area of gb are these rates for?
would be interesting to know as I know some underemloyed optos who can get on their bikes.

if only I had foresight (geddit!!)

Rajive Patel, Community pharmacist

I think the C&D should do a survey to establish a relationship between increased workloads and drinking. I have noticed my alcohol intake has increased substantially. In fact I keep one a day week aside for drinking copious amounts of alcohol. This helps me reset before the start of the new week.


let's hope you don't get behind a wheel the day of the week you keep aside for drinking alcohol...

I firmly believe if anyone under the influence of the DEVILS DRINK kills an innocent person, the guilty should also been run over..

That's a good deterrent.!!


Mr P
That's a bit sad having to resort to alcohol to get you through the week -
one becomes two and you can guess the rest.......
If alcohol is a disease, it is the only disease that:

Is sold in bottles
- Is advertised in newspapers, magazines, on radio, television and Internet
- Has licensed outlets to spread it
- Produces revenue for the government
- Brings violent deaths on the highways
- Destroys family life and increases crime
- Has no germs or viral cause

I'd leave the profession than resort to such a low..

Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist

I suppose alcohol is a remedy like all the thousands of drugs we seem to handing out!
so cheers to you .

or we should all sell out and invest in a microbrewery. imagine the perks.

or before you sober up , pls stand for position chief of psnc., i bet a drunk you will be 100 times better than the current lot.

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

and the fact they don't rely on nhs for 80 % of turnover

Er Ds, Superintendent

poor amish. at least hes got work, 3 million others havent....


Couldn't hv agreed more...

It's tough but I wouldn't say no to more scripts...!!!


Amish Patel, owner of Hodgson Pharmacy, Kent, said his life was "more work than play". The volume of work was increasingly encroaching on his weekends

awwwwwwwwww..let's all give amish a hug....
Be glad script volume is increasing.!!!

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