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Well: 374 jobs at risk as non-pharmacist manager roles axed

Well is aiming for its all its branches to be managed by pharmacists where possible
Well is aiming for its all its branches to be managed by pharmacists where possible

Well plans to remove the non-pharmacist manager position from its stores entirely, with all branches to be managed by pharmacists, it announced yesterday (August 11).

A document sent out to Well employees, seen by C+D, revealed the company’s plans to axe 374 non-pharmacist manager jobs in a bid to have a pharmacist manager in all pharmacies “wherever possible”.

Affected colleagues will enter a 45-day consultation period with the multiple between August 17 and September 30, in which “alternative options” will be highlighted, including technician dispensary and pharmacy assistant roles.

As part of the restructuring, Well has created a new “area operations manager” role, which opened for applications yesterday and will be open to former non-pharmacist managers.

Area operations managers will “take some of the management work” from the pharmacist managers, so they are more free to “get the right balance between leadership and professional aspects of the role, the document said.

Where the existing pharmacist in a branch can’t or doesn’t wish to take on the pharmacist manager role, Well intends to “explore the options available”, including having one pharmacist manager to cover two sites, or appointing a pharmacy technician, who will be “paid an additional supplement”.

"Stronger clinical leadership"

A spokesperson for Well said the proposals will “provide stronger clinical leadership in all 760 UK-based Well pharmacies, and enhanced career opportunities for the pharmacists in [its] organisation.”

“Our insight evidences improved patient and customer experience and performance with this structure,” it added

Well said it is “committed to do everything [it] can to support impacted colleagues at this challenging time”, and will “highlight the alternative options available to them within Well, including the newly created area operations manager positions, as well as technician dispensary and pharmacy assistant vacancies”.

The changes will make it the “first large chain to have pharmacists leading all [its] pharmacy operations”, it claimed.

Are you concerned about the company's restructuring?

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Mmm.... in the good old days, we used to have a supervisor role who dealt with the managment of staff under and in collaboration with the pharmacist manager. I always found this a good system, and if there were critical issues staff would raise them with the supervisor, and we used to have really good head to head discussion regularly and come to a consenus to help the pharmacy team move forward. Good luck all....changed days x

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

..........comment No 200!!!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I'm going to be........

Steve Stevens, Community pharmacist

I am a pharmacist with much experience. In my eyes people are people. Some people are good at organizations skills, some are good at management. Some are not. Regardless of how they are or who they are its disgusting by saying never met rp by some npm.

Greatly Pedantic and Highly Clueless, Senior Management

I see Amazon have just opened up an online pharmacy business in India to go with its other moves into this sector.

From BBC:

"Amazon started its move into pharmaceutical retailing in 2017. The following year it bought US-based home delivery medications startup PillPack.
At the end of last year, the company introduced its Amazon Pharmacy branding to PillPack's service.
In January, Amazon filed to trademark the name Amazon Pharmacy in the UK, Australia and Canada.
The move was seen as a sign that the company was set to significantly expand its prescription drugs business outside of the US."


When Jeff does something, he does it well. This doesn't bode well for Well. 


Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I can't wait for Amazon to start I bet they treat their staff much better then I likes of the shoe shops and the cream companies and then not so well and also the owls 

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Called it several years ago. Literally read a comment I posted five years ago on C&D.

Posted on Fri, 18/12/2015 - 19:15

Ah - the great future which seems to be focused on turning Pharmacy into Amazon Prime, and Dispensers into robots!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Mystic Meg has a rival!

I hope you don't mind me saying this Leon, but it's very geeky that you can reference things you said 5 years ago! I struggle with things I said 5 days ago!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I hear geek is the new chic, haha! You must be looking forward to escaping, what is it now, a few weeks?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Doesn't bode well for any of us to be fair. Is there anyone or anything in the retail world that can stand in the way of the juggernaut that is Amazon and survive? (I wonder if they'll have a prescription wishlist? I know what would be on mine.....)

M. Rx(n), Student

The RP is the Pilot.
The Pilot has a co-pilot, head stewardess and flight engineer in support.

They all sing to the Pilot's tune and have specific roles relative to the captain/pilot.

At all times the Pilot is monitoring everything that is happening and assessing flight conditions. He delegates tasks to the copilot and engineer if need be.

The head steward doesn't manage the flight, they stick to their assigned role.

An RP has to fly a Pharmacy from one point to the other safely. Managing that flight is the responsibility of the Pilot with support of his team. The Pilot doesn't serve the pies but has interest in the in-flight conditions.

The Pilot at all times is on top of all the risks that could arise. He's constantly monitoring flight conditions while airborne. The head steward is his eyes and ears.

The RP must similarly pilot a Pharmacy from the start of day to end of day/ month/year!!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Your analogy doesn't make sense. An RP would more likely be the safety inspector conducting pre-flight checks. Please read up on what an RP actually is required to do, it's evident you are misinformed. 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

The pilot doesn't have to worry about the in-flight meals, stocks of little bags of peanuts, push the trolley around and act out the emergency procedures. A pharmacist manager will figuratively have to do all of those things WHILST STILL FLYING THE PLANE!! You seem to not get that point.

M. Rx(n), Student

Read what I wrote carefully !

And please do so without your hysterical cap on.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

In fact, you've kind of shot yourself in the foot with this one - pilot = pharmacist. Head steward = non-pharmacist manager, Flight attendants = dispensers and counter staff. Head steward (NPM) supervises flight attendants and in flight conditions (dispensers/counter staff, shop floor) so that the pilot can concentrate on flying the plane (ensuring patient safety - checking scripts, performing services etc) and not letting it come down in a ball of flames. By removing the Head steward, i.e. the NPM, the pilot then has to supervise the whole operation, thereby taking them away from the flight controls to sort out trivial matters, there is NO co-pilot analogy in pharmacy, ergo (to borrow your fave phrase) the pharmacy goes down in the ball of flames.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I read what you wrote very carefully indeed and the analogy simply doesn't hold up. The pilot of a plane makes sure it doesn't crash. He doesn't have to worry about the minutiae of the flight. That is someone elses job, the head steward or whatever. If Well's proposal was extended to BA, the pilot would, as well as ensuring the plane stayed in the air, have to serve the meals, drinks, sell the little souvenir airplanes, pull the blinds down, smile sweetly at every numpty request, do the little act at the start of the flight, ensure everyone had their seatbelt on, clean the bogs, pick up the litter and disinfect the plane afterwards. In short, the plane would never get off the ground, let alone fly. THAT is what the Well proposal will do for pharmacy.

Please try to see the wood rather than the trees!

M. Rx(n), Student

Again, read what I wrote carefully !

You are too jaded to comprehend what statutorily is the Pharmacist's role and what the current sorry state of the profession has rendered it.

You are in a hysterical haze.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Given that I have been a superintendent, I think I understand the pharmacist role rather better than you do.

I won't dispute that pharmacy is in a parlous state, I've said it myself many times. However, simply adding another layer of responsibility to an already overworked and overstressed individual is a recipe for disaster. Oh well, if that's the way Well wants to play it, it's their bonfire to piss on. I'll never work for them, I'd advise anyone who does to get out ASAP before they break you and then lets see what happens to them.

And stop thumbs upping your own posts!

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Are you on £23PH as a superintendent?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I should be so lucky!! When I left I was on £22. Superintendency does not pay well unless it's for a big multiple.

M. Rx(n), Student

A supercilious and jaded pharmacist acting bossy on a comment page.

You don't have to get a word in on every post, you know. Sometimes silence says more!!

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I'm with you on this one mate. Well done!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

And the thumbs up to your own post again......

Correct about the silence btw - you should try it.

david williams, Community pharmacist

This is an interesting conversation. I own my own pharmacy (with 2 other phamacists). We all work in the pharmacy at some time during the week, rarely employing a locum. Our ACT "manages the dispensary". Staff, work flows, ordering. Responsible to us but given a high level of autonomy. The way forward?? Are we just luckey to have her or good management by us?? No real answers, but an interesting discussion. Well on the other hand, probably bottom line driven

Leon The Apothecary, Student

That's an interesting but different setup to what this article is showing because neither Pharmacist nor NPM in Well are owners, so there's a shift in power there.

Personally, I feel the model of NPM works better when scaling up, and the benefit of separating clinical and managerial work become more apparent.

For a smaller branch? The balance tips more towards a Pharmacist Manager, in my opinion anyway.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

This is probably the crux of it, Leon. It's all dependent on the workload. If the pharmacy store is a quiet one, there is time for the pharmacist to also manage the shop floor effectively. If it is busy, there is not, but that should be the call of the RP, not the company. By the twisted logic of Invictus Maneo (strangely never heard of them until this thread - Well plant maybe?) the RP is responsible for 'securing the pharmacy premises' which is a very odd way of wording it anyway, but that should then include the right to say whether the RP has the time to manage without compromising patient safety. Best of luck trying that one with a company like Well.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I have evidence to suggest that Well upper management most certainly views C&D, although I suspect our mutual friend works up in Scotland, judging by his name.

Thinking about it in terms of finance, it makes sense for Well to remove the NPM if they are heading towards their attrition-based redundancy strategy from central fulfilment because the workload will be lesser, their Hub can accept roughly 90% of all prescription medicines, and the real challenge they have faced is logistical in nature.

In an idealistic scenario, their branches would be doing 10% of their dispensing workloads, and that is also made easier through their PMR.

They've also had a major reshuffle of their regions and middle management too from what I've heard down the grapevine, NPMs are just a continuation of that in my opinion.

Chris Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Looks like the Hub and spoke system that Well have rolled out in the last couple of years or so isn't delivering the cost savings expected and no wonder, its sounds a mess. Some items being dispensed by the hub having to be matched in branch with items dispensed in branch not sent to the hub, it sounds a nightmare for the staff. Customers calling in for Rx's not even in branch...

Perhaps also a knee-jerk reaction to a fall in revenue caused by Covid (lower OTC sales, higher costs incurred by extra deliveries, PPE and risk management measures)

Pretty certain these NPBMs will leave a huge gap in skills and workload to be filled by an already overloaded RP/new manager.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I believe there was a switch in policy when Analyst was implemented after the falling out with InvaTech and the now better realised Titan. A lot of money went into that project, and the major failing of it was feature bloat.

It really needed to get its core functionality working well, such as it's repeat order management set, before incorporating all the extra bits and pieces.

To me, that shows the inexperience of Well when it comes to software and hardware development. Had some neat features though, Primo was a really cool concept of using recognition software to "read" a prescription; fully realised, it would be able to do the typing part of dispensing in seconds, the device can scan up to 100 pages at once.

Order management was a good feature, you could record all your order dates, to which surgery, which items, and check them off automatically upon receipt into pharmacy, highlighting missing items and queries at a touch of a button. Honestly, just that feature alone would have been amazing, however, a lot of the country is now patient ordering only nowadays.

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Pharmacy control in the hands of pharmacists. Thats how it should be


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