Several medium-sized pharmacy chains and multiples in Scotland are increasing in size by purchasing numerous LloydsPharmacy sites that were closed last month.
The Pharmacists Defence Association (PDA) Regional Committees met to dwell on the issues faced by the community pharmacists across the UK. The PDA’s Scottish regional committee highlighted the impact of Lloyds Pharmacy’s closure in their third committee meeting of 2023.
It said: “Davidsons who have purchased various businesses in Tayside. Rowlands has purchased 30 branches across central Scotland and the PDA has been in touch with members affected. These members will be supported to ensure that they are properly subject to a TUPE transfer (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) as they should be when a business changes ownership.”
Most discussion amongst the Scottish Regional Committee members was around community pharmacy. Reports suggest that negotiations between the Scottish government and the pharmacy owners’ body, Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) have broken down. As the independent voice of the frontline employed and locum pharmacists that deliver the contract, the PDA wants to see an agreement found for the benefit of patients, taxpayers, and health professionals.
The PDA Regional Committees are all pharmacists and PDA members from across areas of pharmacy practice and are elected to represent the wider PDA membership. They meet regularly to discuss current issues in pharmacy ahead of PDA National Executive Committee meetings.
North & South East
Community pharmacists from the region raised that there is a lack of clarity over funding for the new contraceptive service. PDAmMembers are concerned that agreeing funding at a national level will not guarantee reduced workload pressures or safe staffing levels in line with the PDA’s Safer Pharmacies Charter.
In community pharmacy, ASDA has announced pharmacy closures and the committee drew attention to the PDA’s useful guide on redundancy for affected members. Members also discussed the challenges the sector faces, considering funding and workload, particularly with the winter scheme moving a lot of work from GP practices into the community pharmacy sector.
Members in primary care highlighted the reluctance of some PCN pharmacists transitioning from remote working to patient-facing activities due to a lack of confidence or competence, particularly amongst those who qualified during the Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, there was discussion around the new GP contract and the potential issues it raises for the future role of pharmacists.
Locum members highlighted the impact of 100-hour pharmacies being allowed to reduce to 72 hours per week on locum pharmacists’ work availability. The new regulations introduced on 25 May allow a 5-week notice of reduction in hours, resulting in a reduction of 28 hours per 100-hour pharmacy.
Wales and West
In community pharmacy, the Wales and West Regional Committee remarked on the high demand in the sector with pressures on pharmacists heightened by shortages and the potential for new services to be introduced posing concerns in terms of funding and capacity. Members are also concerned about self-checking in line with the PDA’s Safer Pharmacies Charter.
In Wales, the multi-sector placements for trainee pharmacists are proving contentious in terms of whether they are able to develop the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience they need to become confident pharmacists.
In primary care, members noted a high turnover of pharmacists due to inexperience and being pressured to work outside of their competence. PDA members are advised to only work within their competency and job role.