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Locums claim Rowlands threatened to cancel shifts if they didn’t make Pharmacy First declaration

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Locums claim Rowlands threatened to cancel shifts if they didn’t make Pharmacy First declaration

A group of locum pharmacists who work for Rowlands Pharmacy have claimed the chain threatened to cancel their shifts if they did not declare they were competent to provide Pharmacy First.

The locums, who did not want to be named, told Independent Community Pharmacist they felt threatened and pressured to declare their competence after an email sent by Rowlands’ pharmacist resource and recruitment manager Sally Lloyd to its locums on January 19 told them to register their declaration no later than seven days before their first booking on or after January 31.

The email, seen by ICP, went on to say: “If you do not register a declaration in time, your booking may be cancelled and your attention is drawn to the cancellation provisions in clause 3.4 of the locum agreement.”

The locum group said: “No pharmacist should be put under pressure or threatened to self-declare their competence. We, as healthcare professionals, have concerns about the risks to patient safety whereby pharmacists are being intimidated to deliver Pharmacy First services.

“This is regardless of whether we are ready or not, if branch staffing level is sufficient or not, etc, or else our bookings will be cancelled with no future locum shifts.”

The locums, who told ICP "there are many of us" in their group, said they did not respond directly to Lloyd’s email because they “do not respond to threats.” However, they said they have contacted Rowlands’ complaints department and claimed most of them signed the competency declaration form for Pharmacy First “under duress so as not to have shifts cancelled.” They stressed they were “not reluctant to engage” with the scheme.

Rowlands: locums must ensure they are competent to deliver Pharmacy First

Insisting locums are "responsible for ensuring they are competent to deliver Pharmacy First," a Rowlands spokesperson told ICP: "The NHS England specification does not state any mandatory training requirements but all pharmacists should self-declare their own competence and it is this declaration of competence Rowlands is asking locums for."

The spokesperson said Rowlands’ employed pharmacists have received training for the service and insisted it has “a suite of online training to supplement the Centre for Pharmacy Postgraduate Education training that is available." Rowlands also said it has “signposted to local face-to-face events” as well as “hosted internal online drop-in sessions on practical training such as how to use an otoscope.”

The chain said that because locums are self-employed professionals, it does not provide them with training “as we do with our employed pharmacists” but insisted it has “suggested” to locums “that they use CPPE resources to identify any training needs.”

“We would certainly signpost any locums who enquire to the CPPE training available to all pharmacists,” it said. “In response to the letter from concerned locums, to clarify, we state that we may cancel bookings and not that we will.”

The locum group also said they contacted the Royal Pharmaceutical Society for advice and were told by the professional leadership body: "While we don’t provide advice on the specifics of locum contracts we would encourage you to have an active dialogue with the pharmacy contractor to understand their intent and raise the concerns that you have with them directly." 




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