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Community pharmacy breaches NHS contract to cut costs

In our latest member voice article, a locum pharmacist anonymously recalls how a community pharmacy chose to decline their offer to cover a shift and decided to close the store rather than pay the pharmacist their requested day rate.

Thu 11th January 2024 The PDA

I was in negotiations with the employer in the morning over working an extra shift for them that day. I asked for £5 more per hour which I felt was reasonable for agreeing to change my plans at short notice.

At 9 am the branch was still needing a pharmacist and was now closed and not trading to the public (I phoned them and checked this) as it did not have a pharmacist and was still offering the shift at the reduced rate. For the sake of a total of £42.50 extra covering the entire day, the company didn’t fulfil its contract with the NHS to provide their core hours service.

Locums are meant to be able to negotiate the fee for their services – more often lately companies are setting a rate and not moving – landing themselves in potentially more hot water with regards to the tax status of locums.

I was really shocked to find that the employer wouldn’t even negotiate slightly from what they were offering for the shift to attract a locum on the day from an hour before opening to when the branch should have been open.

They showed no urgency or desire to open as they are contracted to do, to offer their services to the public. The requests I was making for payment were not unreasonable or exorbitant. Patients were denied access to services from their health centre pharmacy due to an unresolved difference of £5 per hour.

Reporting unnecessary closures

In this example, like others seen by the PDA, the community pharmacy was aware of a specific individual available to cover the shift and hiring them would have enabled the pharmacy to be open for patients.

If a community pharmacy employer is failing to meet their contractual arrangement with the NHS, this is an issue of contractual breach between those parties.

In response to requests from pharmacists, the PDA has created a form to assist such reporting which can be viewed here. This form is for England and can be completed and emailed to the relevant NHS England & Improvement pharmacy contract team.

For breaches in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland the same process can be followed with reports made to the relevant Health Board.

The PDA also has an online reporting tool to gather data on pharmacy closures and is therefore asking pharmacists to help collate information about when and where these closures are occurring. The tool can be found here.

Learn more

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