PDA: 'Nothing has changed' since Boots MUR allegations


Mark Pitt: There needs to be some proactivity from the GPhC
Mark Pitt: There needs to be some proactivity from the GPhC
An anonymous claim about “dangerous conditions” in a Lloydspharmacy shows “nothing has changed” in the past year, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has alleged.

PDA director of defence services Mark Pitt argued that the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) is still not "picking up issues" of under-staffing and workplace pressures across the sector, a year after they were identified at Boots.

This suggests the regulator's inspections are “not fit for purpose”, Mr Pitt told C+D in an exclusive interview last month (April 20).

"The GPhC inspection model clearly isn't identifying what is a significant problem."

In response to Mr Pitt's allegations, a GPhC spokesperson said: “Our inspectors continue to probe in the areas where workplace pressures may have an impact, including in relation to staffing.”

You can read more from the GPhC’s response below.

Pharmacists “don’t have confidence” to complain

Earlier this month, C+D published a letter sent to the PDA by an anonymous locum pharmacist, who described a former Sainsbury's pharmacy as being in "turmoil" since it was acquired by Lloydspharmacy.

The letter came to light a year after the Guardian published an article claiming that managers in Boots branches were pressuring staff to carry out unnecessary medicines use reviews (MURs) to maximise income from the service. Boots said at the time that it did "not recognise" these claims. (See its full response here).

Mr Pitt claimed the GPhC’s “lacklustre response” to the MUR allegations means pharmacists “don’t have the confidence” to complain. He pointed to the anonymity of the Lloydspharmacy locum letter as evidence of this.

“There needs to be some proactivity from the GPhC. It needs to be holding these companies to account.”

GPhC's response 

The GPhC said it is aware of the issues highlighted in C+D's coverage of the unnamed Lloydspharmacy branch.

"Our inspection powers help us to assess how well pharmacy owners are achieving the standards for registered pharmacies," the regulator said.

The GPhC is “taking forward work to build a broad understanding of the factors affecting quality of pharmacy services – not just in community settings, but in all areas of pharmacy practice”, the regulator added.

This "work" includes the GPhC's online workshops on workplace pressures, the regulator said, which it expects to publish a report on by the autumn.

Listen to C+D's podcast below to hear PDA ex-director John Murphy discuss why the organisation does not apologise for kick-starting the Guardian's MUR coverage.

Are you feeling the pressure of the funding cuts?

Have you noticed an increase in pressure at work as the funding cuts have started to 'bite'? Have you been asked to reduce your hours or increase the number of medicines use reviews? Or has a change of ownership affected your pharmacy?

Share your story with C+D by emailing us at this address with the subject "pharmacy pressures". We will respect all requests for anonymity.

Please provide as much detail as possible, including the relevant town or region.


Do you have the confidence to complain?

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

The inspectors can't do anything if they are telling them they have no 'Mur' pressure

Joan Richardson, Locum pharmacist

How long before we see a pharmacist pressurised into accessing a SCR in order to get the quality payment?  We have to access at least one in the initial period and then show an increase in the next period.  As yet I have not found myself in a position where I needed to access a SCR. 

This is another MUR type scenario just waiting to happen

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Oh it's depressing reading........hope my lottery ticket comes up soon.....

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Glad I no longer have to answer to these wasters in their ivory tower.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

You've got to love teh GPhC. Been speaking to some of my friends who are pharmacists at the multiples - guess what? Some got told to tell the inspector that they were not being pressurised to perform MURs. Do I blame them - NO! The GPhC is toothless - no protection for whistle-blowers, no powers to enforce anything, not even a letter to the Superintendent Pharmacists of these multiples demanding an investigation!! So GPhC, please explain to me, how are you measuring the success and impact of your online workshops into workforce pressures?? When can we expect the results to be published? One really questions why we are paying our fee to this organisation, there is no level of professional support provided whatsoever - instead they are too busy writing guidance on how pharmacists should behave, revalidate and do their CPD. Riveting life-changing topics!! God Help us all pharmacists out there in the real world facing these relentless pressures day-in and day-out. These pharmacists deserve a lot more than is being offered by the GPhC or the RPS.

Andy Burrells, Pre-reg Pharmacist

It's hardly like the council are being asked to go above and beyond...

All that is being asked of them is to act wthin their remit and enforce the standards they set. By doing so would not only bring comfort to their registrants but promote patient and staff safety and wellbeing.

To not act only stokes the fire that they are not impartial and are working to the benefit of someone other than patients and their registrants

Fuzzy Wuzzy, Community pharmacist

Let's face it unless you are a real world pharmacist how on earth would you be expected to know where the issues were?  The GPhC has proven time and time again that they are not fit for purpose.  Maybe it's time for someone to start accepting responsibility rather than apportioning blame....superintendents, are you listening or hiding?

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist


Totally agree nothing has changed.

Boots never accepted there is or was a problem. Neither do any of the other multiples. Therefore they have never accepted the need to change.

Please point me in the direction of a statement from the GPhC that Boots or Lloyds or anyone else needs to change SOPs, policies or procedures? So GPhC do not accept there is anything wrong.

Actually sorry something has changed. Two things. Employers are sharper at putting the blame on employees in this regard and employees have learned not to complain about workplace pressure as they are very quickly given their marching orders.




Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

The GPhC appear to have no insight into the scale of the problem, no power to implement change and no drive to rectify any of these issues.

RIP Pharmacy... your regulator killed you off. That's why I'm now studying medicine.

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