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Rowlands 'regrets' reviewing staff levels to cope with cuts

Rowlands: The preparation of medication trays will be moved to a "central location"
Rowlands: The preparation of medication trays will be moved to a "central location"

Rowlands "regrets" having to "re-look" at staffing levels as a result of the funding cuts in England, it has told C+D.

As part of the multiple's attempts to prevent closures, the preparation of medicine trays "will be moved from branches into a central location…to help free-up time in the pharmacy", it confirmed to C+D yesterday (April 24).

"As trays are labour-intensive, it will be necessary to re-look at the staff levels in branches," it added.

Rowlands said it will "allocate hours" to branches to ensure "consistent" staffing levels across "every" one of its more than 500 branches across the UK.

Funding cuts "sole" reason behind decision

The multiple said it had been "forced to look at alternative ways" of operating, as a result of the funding cuts in England.

"If we do not look at our cost levels, we may be forced to close pharmacies," Rowlands stressed.

The "course of action" is "regrettable", but "delivering excellent patient care" remains Rowlands' priority, it said.

Rowlands told C+D it is unable to comment on how the changes will affect individual branches.

Do you work for Rowlands?

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

I found Rowlands among the better staffed operators. It is a shame to hear this will change and they will be bobbing up and down in the same multiple flotsam as the rest of them.

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

This is about protecting profits, sadly staff will have to pay. The title of this piece should be "Rowlands ditch staff to preserve profits".

Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

Don't know why Port Talbot Steel Works springs to mind!

D F, Primary care pharmacist

How about looking at all these blister packs, and assessing if they actually really needed? Historically pharmacies accept blister packing when asking for them to be done - there are other alternatives to blisterpavkibg? How about training carers about meds so meds can stay in original packing where they are stable. Many blisters are because carers will not do anything with a pt's meds unless they're blister packed? Reducing staff even further will add more pressure to already overworked pharmacies. I'm glad for the time being for a new career path out of community....

Pharma Tron , Community pharmacist

Following on from this theme around blister packs- interpreting the Equalities Act 2010, compliance aids are a reasonable adjustment in some cases for patients administering their own medication, certainly not to plug a skills gap for a care agency. I have a smidgen of sympathy however as a CQC document produced ages ago suggested that caregivers shall only give medication in a blister pack- what they meant this to be was manufacturers standard packaging and not compliance aids, to which the document made reference to later on. So MDS/ dosettes certainly aren't the panacea we are led to believe, so we are guarded over them- carers administering is a no no. Get your GP's on board too- they're having the same stuff thrown at them- everything for nothing (well, a GP nothing is different than a Pharmacist nothing) but they well understand that we may say no, and the reasons why. 

Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

Good idea! Who will train the carers? Who will fund the training? Carers in our part of the woods change almost weekly due to low pay and morale, so training would have to be be ongoing and at carer recruitment stage or induction of staff stage. Care companies or local council  are unlikely to spend money on training of this type.

Back to square one!

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Most of the blister packing we do is for care homes - so they can employ cheap care assistants with no training to dispense the meds, and are hence more profitable. So, in essence we are subsidising their business.

Honest Tikes, Sales

"So, in essence we are subsidising their business."

Then stop being stupid and cease the arrangement


Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

Quite true, so when asked by a home, say no, I have turned down 2 recently.

Tom Kennedy, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

Nothing to do with the funding cuts.  Rowlands have too many staff. Fact. This was on the cards long before the funding cuts were announced. 



Em, Locum pharmacist

Phase one for Rowlands hub and spoke??

Seal Patel, Community pharmacist

I dont see anything wrong with looking at staffing levels to offset costs. Pharmacy is a business, and like any buisness there has to be profits. 

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Community pharmacy isn't like any other business though, is it? It is in fact a unique type of business in which profits are gifted through a government operated cartel. So your inference that there should be some natural acceptance of all this because it is the inevitable result of a free market at work - is false. 

The financial returns gifted by this government operated cartel are both very generous and remarkably stable compared to other retail markets, hence the constant demand to allocate capital in this sector.

Indeed, closures will occur, hours will be reduced, wages will fall and redundancies will be made, but this will be in the name of protecting a very generous and stable profit margin and not (as is being claimed by some) because of an existential threat to vertically integrated corporate monopolies.

Put more simply: don't p*ss on my leg and tell me it is raining. 

Commentator Online,

You had me until 'pharmacy is a business'

Yuna Mason, Sales

How does one learn to speak with duplicitous forked tongue?

Fuzzy Wuzzy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

Be interesting to see how all the pharmacies that cut staff and hours manipulate the minimum dispensing hours figure to claim their monthly allowances....GPhC, where is this in your inspection visit?

Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

Although still stated in the DT, since the imposition of the funding, staff hours do not need to be recorded on FP34.

RAJA SRIKAKULAPU, Community pharmacist

Don't forget they include pharmacist hours aswell so they are always over 

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

If I could advance a suggestion to Rowlands?

In regards to moving production of medicine trays to a central location, “to help free-up time in the Pharmacy”........invariably a euphemism for making redundancies.

Why not leave things as they are but start charging the recipients, especially residential/nursing homes, for this and other services currently performed for free?

Maybe, just maybe, in these harsher economic times, you may start a trend. I don’t hold my breath though.

Honest Tikes, Sales

"Why not leave things as they are but start charging the recipients, especially residential/nursing homes, for this and other services currently performed for free?"

For the sake of our remaining professional dignity we should do this......But we won't because "we" are divided

Charles Whitfield Bott, Pharmacist Director

You can not charge for a dosette box if the patient qualifies as disabled (in which case you are already paid for it). Its true that homes could be charged, as could patients who have some form of paid for care.

David Ferris, Community pharmacist

Terminal illness qualifies as a disability, as life is a terminal illness then everyone qualifies.

Murtada alsaif, Locum pharmacist

Agreed. In my opinion, it's a national disgrace that dossette boxes are not a bona fide pharmacy service.

Not sure why the PSNC, even exists anymore...

lucas perez, Student

murtada...why do you care if dosette boxes are not part of pharmacy service, do you honestly think contractors will giv you more kney if it was part of the nhs framework?

Jonny Johal, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

How can it be a disgrace when contractors offer the service to patients willingly, nobody asked them to - pharmacists only got themselves to blame. 

lucas perez, Student

*This comment has been deleted for breaching C+D's community principles*

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Hi Clive

The unfortunate thing is that if one service provider introduces a charge for a previously "free" service, someone else may view that as an opportunity to poach business, therefore it will only work if everyone starts charging. But....

for everyone to start charging, it would need some form of (tacit) agreement (unless some brave soul is prepared to make that leap of faith) which creates a cartel

Now, if we only produced crude oil....

Michael The Locum , Locum pharmacist

Because of funding cuts the light at the end of the tunnel has had to be turned off !!!!

Beta Blocker, Primary care pharmacist

Here we go...

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