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Asda area manager warns locums who don’t engage with Pharmacy First will be removed

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Asda area manager warns locums who don’t engage with Pharmacy First will be removed

This story was originally published by Independent Community Pharmacist.

The English Pharmacy Board member Paul Summerfield has criticised Asda after one of its area managers told branches in Sheffield and Manchester that locums who refuse to engage with Pharmacy First will be permanently removed from the Locate a Locum platform.

Summerfield posted a screenshot on his X account of a message from Andrew Windus, who is Asda’s healthcare area manager for Sheffield and Manchester, in which he told staff there are “rumblings on the street” that some locums “are giving out a vibe that they may refuse to engage with Pharmacy First” when the service starts on Wednesday and insisted “this will not be accepted.”  

In his message, sent on January 12, Windus said locums have been told about the importance of engaging with Pharmacy First and insisted “there will be a similar declaration that locums will need” to update their Locate a Locum profile highlighting they agree “to engage” with the service.

He urged staff to tell him “as soon as possible” about locums who are struggling or refusing to engage with the service and insisted he will talk to them personally to “see what blockers are driving the behaviour.”

Windus added: “I’ll work with the individual to see if we can get these blockers removed. If, for whatever reason, locums are refusing, they will be removed from (the) LAL platform permanently. Non-negotiable.”

Summerfield posted: “Pharmacy First is an advanced service. It is not an essential service. To threaten a pharmacist like this is unacceptable. It is up to the practitioner providing the service to decide whether they are competent to do so. Non-negotiable.” He told ICP his comment was made in a personal capacity and not as a member of the English Pharmacy Board.

An Asda spokesperson told ICP: “It is important that our patients receive consistent services when visiting any Asda Pharmacy. However, we recognise the challenges that providing these new services presents to our pharmacists, both resident and locum.

“We are providing support to enable our pharmacists to feel confident in providing the new services and encourage them to come to us with any concerns they may have about providing Pharmacy First services at Asda pharmacies.

“The Pharmacy First integration into community pharmacies marks a pivotal moment for the industry and we are excited to lead our committed pharmacists through these exciting changes and to offer greater services to patients in our local communities.”

Locate a Locum did not want to comment. When asked if it will investigate Windus' message, the General Pharmaceutical Council told ICP it is "planning to write to pharmacy owners and superintendent pharmacists later in the week in relation to safely providing a wider range of services, including Pharmacy First."

However, it said said it "wouldn’t give a view on whether we would investigate an individual case."

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