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Rowlands to locums: MURs and NMS 'not optional extras'

Rowlands: Locum pharmacists should know what is expected from them
Rowlands: Locum pharmacists should know what is expected from them

A letter sent to locum pharmacists working for Rowlands is intended to “reinforce the message” that performing some services is a requirement for working for the multiple, it has told C+D.

In a letter sent to locums working for Rowlands in the “Doncaster, Grimsby and Lincoln area” last week – and seen by C+D – locums are “reminded” that “it is a requirement of the company and a condition of booking that you recruit and perform medicines use reviews (MURs) and [the] new medicine service (NMS) when working as a locum for Rowlands pharmacy”.

The area manager who wrote the letter said they were “disappointed to hear that there are a number of locum pharmacists who are not delivering these services on a regular basis”.

A spokesperson for Rowlands told C+D on Friday (August 25) that while this particular letter was not issued nationally, “locums need to know what is expected from them”.

“The letter to locums was intended to reinforce the message that MURs and NMS [consultations] are not optional extras, rather they are core services we need to provide if we are to meet patient and commissioner expectations,” the spokesperson added.

Meeting targets

In the letter, the area manager said that every Rowlands branch in the area is set a "target" of completing 10 MURs a week and 15 NMS consultations a month. Locums in the area are “required” to complete two MURs and recruit an unspecified number of patients to the NMS every shift, to “help the branch and area achieve its goals”, the area manager added.

Rowlands told C+D that MUR and NMS targets vary across the country “according to patient need and demand”.

When C+D asked whether locums would face consequences for not meeting the required numbers, Rowlands said: “Targets set out what we think is reasonable and achievable. These are not ‘red lines’, but provide clarity to managers and locums about expected performance and delivery of important patient services.”

“Successfully delivering MURs and NMS is critical to the future of community pharmacy in England. It demonstrates our unique ability and potential to achieve improved patient outcomes," Rowlands said.

"If community pharmacy fails to meet the expectations of NHS England or commissioners, then they will look at alternative providers,” it stressed.

Rowlands said that the purpose of the letter was not only to set out requirements for locum bookings at the multiple, but "why that matters to patients and the NHS".

Read a copy of the letter sent to locums working for Rowlands here.

Are you required to meet weekly or monthly MUR targets in your pharmacy?

M P, Community pharmacist

"Your job as an area mamanger is to look afer your staff and your staffs job is to look after their customers."

Exactly! M

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

Very well said Tohidul...The RP alone should decide on MURs based on necessity and the state of staffing levels at the store....We should send a petitioned letter to the GPHC for them to take action on this front...They wouldn't do anything if it's left as it is...

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Don't waste your time my friend. The petition would be binned straight away.

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

Ok if it's binned then all registrants should then hold a vote on whether a new regulatory body needs to be set up, or whether the GPHC is adequate as it is....Just hold a referendum and only registrants allowed to cast votes....

Alan WHITEMANN, Communications

Boots did this years ago .... so all the others follow suit.*

*This comment has been edited to comply with C+D's community principles*


Ghengis Pharm, Locum pharmacist

We're missing the point here.  This is Rowlands.  Don't work for them !

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Response from the GPhC - deafening silence...

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

... as expected, how many registration fees is Rowlands worth?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

565 I believe off the top of my head. Might be off by one or two.

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

In other breaking news, the GPhC has firmly condemned this move by Rowlands which bullies pharmacists into providing unnecessary MURS and services and compromises their professional ...oh wait it was just a dream.

John Ashworth, Community pharmacist

Maybe I've got it wrong but back in the day when MUR service was first brought out didn't the NHS with hold some money from the global sum and advise us that we could do the service to earn it back ? As far as I'm concerned this has always been a service you need to do together the money back that they took off is it the first place . Just glad the limit is 400 !!!

M P, Community pharmacist

This maybe true - but it wasn't pharmacist that agreed to this. The multiples should have used their might to stop this from ever happening- it undermines us as a profession to carry out unnecessary reviews - in the long term that devalues the whole profession and we end up having our budgets cut further. 

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Sounds like the multiples are in bed with the GPhC....

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

Totally incorrect, The value of the Mur;s and NMS's were never part of the global sum, but were introduced as a paid service, to offset the purchase profits clawed back then., Contact the PSNC to verfy the  facts!!!! 


The pharmacy business still remains to be the most profitable and a low risk business owing to the governments  generous NHS Pharmacy contract, coupled with  contract limitations.

A Hussain, Senior Management

I would like to think that good locums will use their judgement and provide these services as the professionals they are.  I prefer locums that provide services as it gives a better impression of the business and brings in much needed income.  Forcing them to provide such services when suitable patients may not present in the branch is not on and should not be allowed.

Ilove Pharmacy, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

But you're not allowed to use your judgement. That sort of reckless behaviour will get you the sack. 

sanjai sankar, Locum pharmacist

Also being told to provide  such services when branches are under resourced increases pressure  on pharmacists and compromises patient safety...Unfortunately some of these companies struggle to understand this or deliberately turn a blind eye...How can one be expected to provide an MUR whilst keeping customers waiting for prescriptions outside? Such pressure and expectations can increase the chances of dispensing errors...Its only a question of time before this is proven....This issue must surely be addressed, its been going on for ages now...The RP must be the only person to decide on conducting MURs...Any evidence of "pressure" from employers must be dealt with by the regulator...This law should be enshrined in the service spec for all Pharmacy related services....


Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Can I ask why it is unreasonable to expect locums to provide services, such as MURs, NMS (or Flu vaccinations, or comply with SCR access requirements)?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Stephen, i. locums are more independent compared with employed pharmacists, hence less likely to wilt to pressures to conform to targets, ii. locums are very often also employed pharmacists in another organisation, the reason why they don't do as many MURs when locuming is therefore obvious.

Then there is the question of the value of MURs and NMS, I have yet to come across convincing evidence that these are of value to patients. To date, I have not heard of a single case where a pharmacist had come up against the Statutory Committee, or in any other formal setting, where a patient has suffered as a result of a lack of MUR or NMS. The perceived value of these 'services', I contend, are mainly in the eyes of contractors.

Locums should boycott Rowlands.

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

Mr Eggleston.


The answer is very simple.The main and criteria for  MUR;s  is, that it has to benefit the patient and not the coffers of the TARGET DRIVEN RUTHLESS MERCENARY  CONTRACTORS, mainly the multiples.The idiotic managers need to read the service specification as laid out in the Drug Tarrif. No where does it state that a target is mandatory!! or that the MUR's have to be repeated annualy for the same patient on the same medication for years without any Medicine use issues. The service needs to be scapped, as it is maniplulated by the contractors to defraud the NHS by leveraging the delivery of the said predominantly useless services through employee and locum pharmacists.


Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Eversince Kenny Black appeared on Channel 4's Undercover Boss, I thought it was an expression of management failure that their managing director had to go 'undercover' in order to discover what goes on in his own stores! ... and now, we have this threat to locums; it tells me 2 things:- 1. Rowlands managers are all towing the line with volumes of MURs and NMRs performed (or they would have been sacked) and 2. Rowlands management still have no clue. The use of bullying tactics to make pharmacists choose between their jobs and professionalism should have been addressed by the GPhC a long time ago. May I say, the GPhC need to 'grow some balls' instead of being run by the multiples (who are their de facto pay master and provider of pensions).

The obvious question I want to ask Rowlands is about their finances, are they so bad that they have to resort to this sort of tactics for a little over £10k per store? My advice is, concentrate on their supply line, a few tweaks here and there may get them more, or have they done that already! Oh dear.

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

This programme concentrated on mainy the delivery service of the drugs and did not enhance the image of the pharmacist, and its skills and the services they can deliver. A prime example of the wrong image was that of one of his drivers driving around in an ordinary van, for some 2-3 hours with all sorts of drugs, CD;s and refrigerated items without any customised storage compartments, Also him only simply handing over the drugs. An image of low grade social services, rather than an image of a professional service . A complete waste of time and idiotic!!!

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

This is not going to get tackled by any multiple, since GPhC/RPS cannot even be bothered to address this. Unless there is some regulatory/legal implications, this is not a practice that multiples are going to stop any time soon.


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