Boots to cut 'supplementary' trading hours across a number of stores
Boots UK has confirmed it plans to “slightly reduce supplementary opening hours” at a number of its pharmacies at times of “lower demand”.
The Pharmacists’ Defence Association issued a statement yesterday outlining its concerns around reports that Boots plans to cut back on hours surplus to its NHS contractual obligations in some stores.
When approached by Pharmacy Network News, the multiple confirmed these reports, with a spokesperson commenting: “Our ambition for healthcare is to empower our pharmacy team members to play a greater role in primary care, spending more time with patients and operating at the centre of their evolving healthcare needs.
“To do this, we must carefully assess our pharmacy network to ensure that our provision is offered where and when it is needed. Following a recent review, we plan to slightly reduce supplementary opening hours at some of our pharmacies due to lower demand at certain times.
“More broadly, we regularly assess our pharmacy team structures to ensure we have the right team members in the right places to serve our patients.”
While it is unclear how many stores will be affected by the planned reduction in hours, Pharmacy Network News understands that total hours across the business will be cut by less than six per cent.
The multiple has a total of 2,150 NHS contracts and employs 51,000 staff members according to a breakdown published on its website this month.
PNN also understands that it is envisaged any impact on staff numbers will be minimal.
The PDA, which bargains pay and conditions on behalf of Boots pharmacists, has expressed concern around the impact any reduction in hours may have on workload and on patients’ access to pharmaceutical services.
PDA director Paul Day told PNN: “If the NHS keeps saying ‘We are going to send patients to pharmacies,’ the pharmacy needs to be there and to be open.”
He also raised concerns that the move could lead to staff leaving the company if their new hours represent a significant pay cut, resulting in a "further erosion in staffing resource" that may compromise safety levels.
The PDA said: "We welcome assurances form the company that they aim to keep job losses to a minimum and we will support those [PDA members] who are asked to change their working hours to either continue in a suitable alternative role or to get the appropriate redundancy payment if no such alternative is available."
It is widely rumoured that Boots is being put up for sale by parent company Walgreens Boots Alliance, with a potential bid coming from Asda’s owners, as well as a joint bid from Bain Capital and CVC.
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