Potential sales of Boots and LloydsPharmacies significant for NHS Primary Care sector


The four UK governments and policymakers should be looking carefully at the current scenario, where the largest two community pharmacy chains across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are now both potentially changing ownership. McKesson have already announced the planned sale of LloydsPharmacy to Aurelius and there are now suggestions that WBA are selling  Boots UK to a yet-to-be-identified purchaser. Community pharmacies are a critical part of the health system and between them, these two corporations own and operate more than a quarter of the UK’s registered community pharmacies.

This latest development has led to some pharmacists and PDA members at Boots questioning where the company will go next. Comments have recalled how the ideals of founders John and Jesse Boot had created a once great company where pharmacists aspired to work. However, under the current owners and management, the company already faces what the Company Chemists Association calls a “workforce crisis”. Many Boots pharmacists are now talking for the first time about taking industrial action over the poor levels of reward.

At both Boots and LloydsPharmacy, the PDA Union has trade union recognition rights. Under those agreements, the PDA Union negotiate terms and conditions for store-based pharmacists as well as being a key partner on topics such as health and safety. In circumstances where businesses go through a process of changing ownership, usual union-related recognition and activity proceed as normal until the acquisition takes effect and continues once new owners are in place too.

This means that there should be no change to the recognition agreements and pharmacists can be assured that whoever owns these businesses and whatever future shape and size they take, the PDA will be supporting members. This support will allow members to understand and exercise their rights at work and to ensure the collective voice of pharmacists has the appropriate influence on safety, reward, and other aspects of the working environment.

The PDA has recently surveyed members about safety standards, and the wellbeing and stress levels of pharmacists at Boots and LloydsPharmacy. The results will be published soon.