As many as 400 pharmacists could be made redundant as a result of LloydsPharmacy’s plans to withdraw services from 237 Sainsbury’s stores, the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has told The Pharmaceutical Journal.
The multiple announced in January 2023 that it planned to withdraw pharmacy services from the supermarket chain, saying at the time that it was “currently exploring options for each individual branch”, leaving it unclear whether the branches would be sold or closed.
However, Paul Day, director of the PDA, told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 20 February 2023 that LloydsPharmacy is “closing them all”, leaving pharmacy staff working in the stores at risk of redundancy.
“If you think about it, it makes sense from Sainsbury’s point of view — they don’t want random different pharmacies in their stores,” he said.
The PDA Union has represented pharmacists employed by LloydsPharmacy since February 2021, when it signed a voluntary recognition agreement with the multiple.
While Day said redundancy notices have yet to be distributed by the multiple to pharmacy staff in the affected branches, “the vast majority will probably get made redundant”.
“There are about 400 pharmacists employed in those stores. Any employer should look for alternative work for people … but for many of these places, there won’t be a local LloydsPharmacy with a vacancy within a reasonable distance.”
“It is the law that they have to do what they can to avoid making people redundant, but the expectation is that most of those people will get made redundant.”
Day said that pharmacists working in some branches “could be receiving [their notice] in the next few weeks”.
“[LloydsPharmacy has] to give the NHS three months’ notice that they are closing a pharmacy [and] if those branches are 100-hour branches, they have to give them 6 months’ notice.”
Day added that about 100 of these pharmacists had received a notice telling them that, as former Sainsbury’s pharmacy employees, they would not be eligible for an enhanced redundancy package.
In 2015, Sainsbury’s sold 281 pharmacies to Celesio AG, the then owner of LloydsPharmacy, with hundreds of pharmacists transferred under the 2006 ‘Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)’ — or ‘TUPE’ — regulations from Sainsbury’s to LloydsPharmacy.
A statement from the PDA, published on 17 February 2023, said that, at the time of the transfer, pharmacists were told they would still be eligible for the enhanced redundancy package offered to all Sainsbury’s employees, as LloydsPharmacy employees.
The statement added that LloydsPharmacy had now informed these employees that the enhanced redundancy package would only be offered where it was written into their contract.
A spokesperson for LloydsPharmacy said: “LloydsPharmacy is in consultation with all Sainsbury’s based colleagues who are potentially at risk of redundancy.
“Meaningful consultation will include considering any measures that mitigate or reduce the risk of redundancies.”