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Asda clarifies Pharmacy First target and denies link-selling claims

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Asda clarifies Pharmacy First target and denies link-selling claims

Asda has denied claims on social media that they have set an initial target of 30 Pharmacy First consultations a month for each of its stores and sent a communication to staff telling them “link-selling is key.”

Two images were posted on X yesterday by the pharmacist Greg Lawton appearing to show communications from Asda to staff about Pharmacy First. In first image, Asda tells them Pharmacy First is a “£3m opportunity” and says “stores will have a KRA (key responsibility area) of 30 consultations a month.”

Above the image, Lawton posted that Asda had “initially” set “its stores a target of 30 consultations per month.” According to government guidance on the service, contractors need to provide one consultation this month to claim the fixed monthly payment of £1,000 and that will rise incrementally each month. From October, a minimum of 30 consultations will be needed to secure the fixed payment.

An Asda spokesperson told Independent Community Pharmacist: “The 30-a-month target is in line with the Department of Health’s expectations for all pharmacies by October.”

However, Asda said it did not recognise the second image posted by Lawton of a communication entitled ‘top tips and questions’ which included the words ‘link-selling is key” and “most customers, even if eligible, will need pain relief.”

The Asda spokesperson said: “The image of a piece of paper that references link-selling we do not believe has come from Asda.” Both images have attracted over 6,000 views and a number of critical comments.

The English Pharmacy Board (EPB) member Thorrun Govind, speaking in a personal capacity to ICP, said the General Pharmaceutical Council should contact Asda on the matter having earlier posted the chain’s actions were “embarrassing.”

“I am keen to see the GPhC reconcile communication such as this with the GPhC standards for registered pharmacies and its guidance to support a safe and effective pharmacy team,” she told ICP.

“This is not a positive way to engage pharmacists and their teams and undoes much of the advocacy being done to ensure that community pharmacies are not seen as transactional retail outlets.”

Another EPB member, Paul Summerfield, also posting in a personal capacity, said: “As foretold by a fair few, this has become a KPI” while Humber & North Yorkshire integrated care board’s chief pharmacist Laura Angus posted: “Come on Asda! Value the clinical skills of the pharmacy team – your staff – and support the team to deliver this opportunity safely, with a focus on great patient care and without any targets attached. Think of the long-term benefits of getting this right.”

Asda: No expectation for our pharmacists to offer OTC meds in every consultation

The Asda spokesperson told ICP there is "no expectation" for its pharmacists "to offer OTC medication in every consultation."

"At Asda, our primary focus is the health and wellbeing of our patients. While over the counter self care is not covered by the service, our pharmacists are trained to offer the best possible treatment options, including advising on OTC products when appropriate. This approach ensures that patients receive complete and effective care during their consultation," they said.

They said the chain's assertion that "most customers, even if eligible, will need pain relief" was "based on extensive experience of dealing with patients seeking OTC self care and reflects an understanding of patient needs based on the experiences of our pharmacists."

The spokesperson added: "The launch of Pharmacy First on January 31 marks a significant step forward for community pharmacy. We are encouraged by the positive engagement from both patients and our pharmacists. Asda is dedicated to ensuring that every patient accessing our services receives the best possible care, which includes informed opportunities for over the counter self care where appropriate."


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