to be annoyed with the pharmacist assistant?

(118 Posts)
holibobs Thu 09-May-13 11:45:38

I went to get my usual medication from the pharmacy. It's not a medication I'm happy to take and is a personal issue. Got to the counter to collect it and the pharmacist assistant loudly said the name of the medication, opened it up, showed me the tablets (in a busy shop - about 10 people queuing) and said 'are they working for you?'. I was utterly gobsmacked. AIBU to think she should have been discrete?

narmada Thu 09-May-13 11:47:56

Not at all - I think YADNBU. I would complain. Silly person.

Cailinsalach Thu 09-May-13 11:48:16

YANBU. Any medical/ health workers should be sensitive. She sounds a bit nosy.

Er, what exactly is your health issue (concerned not nosy icon)

squeakytoy Thu 09-May-13 11:49:04

I doubt anyone in the queue was remotely interested in what the medication was, or what it was for.

Unless you are a man and it was viagra... which would no doubt have amused the queue..

MrsMangelFanciedPaulRobinson Thu 09-May-13 11:49:09

YANBU at all. I'd have told her that it's none of her business.

isitsnowingyet Thu 09-May-13 11:49:34

YANBU - I've had the same thing in a small village pharmacy. I'm okay about the drug that I take now - but at the time felt v. unhappy about it. Not sure what you can do about it though, unless you phone the pharmacist to ask their staff to be a bit more sensitive?

TentativeWhistleBlower Thu 09-May-13 11:49:39

All depends on the medication. She could have perhaps been a bit quieter, but at the end of the day, she has to make sure it is safe to give you the medicine before she hands it over, as well as a double check that it's the right medication and she hasn't mixed up prescriptions or anything. Safety and health checks trump feeling slightly embarrassed IMO.

Booyhoo Thu 09-May-13 11:51:19

why is erectile dysfunction funnier than any other medical issue? confused

YANBU OP- she should be discreet. the other customers shouldn't get the choice in whether to be interested or not in your medication. the only person that needs to hear it's name is you.

Booyhoo Thu 09-May-13 11:54:08

it doesn't depend on the medication tentatice. she shouldn't be loudly saying any of the medication names regardless of what they're for. she calls the customer's name and when the customer comes to teh counter to collect she quietly confirms teh name of the meds and asks if there are any contra indications. no need to do any of that loudly.

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 11:54:18

I don't normally tell people about the meds but to put it into context it is HRT and the reason it's a little sensitive is that I am really young to be on this (late 20's)
I've been on it for about 2-3 years so there is no reason for her to check if it's working and as I am under close observation by nurses and a consultant then it's not her responsibility to check. I am a bit annoyed I have to say.

samandi Thu 09-May-13 12:44:58

Erm ... if it's a prescription it really isn't her business to ask anything. YANBU.

MamaMumra Thu 09-May-13 12:50:52

No pharmacies are duty bound to respect confidentiality and you any complaint would have to be taken seriously. Have to run off now but will pm you later. Very out of order, my employer would discipline for this.

LastTangoInDevonshire Thu 09-May-13 12:53:00

Did the other customers in the shop know it was HRT - or did she not mention the name of the medication at all?

None of her business if it's working or not!! What if you'd said no, what was she going to do? Re-prescribe something else?!


madamginger Thu 09-May-13 12:56:37

If its a prescription then it is her business. If you have a reaction then it is the pharmacy that can get in trouble not the gp even though he prescribed it.
There is a couple of pharmacy services that are paid for by the NHS to reduce over prescribing called nms and mur. She was probably checking to see if you needed one.
she should have been more discreet about it though.

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 13:18:48

madamginger - it's hardly oversubscribing when it's the dose the consultant has decided. It's not like it's a pain killer or something.

LastTango - she said the name of the medication. I don't know if customers knew it was HRT.

Mamamumra - Thank you.

I would not mind if this conversation had been private but certainly not in public. Surely there must be discreet ways to check they've given you the right prescription.

fluffyraggies Thu 09-May-13 13:24:40

I'm shock

Very wrong of her. It's not up to her or any of us to decide what's embarrassing to have broadcast across the chemist about your health and what's not - which is why discretion is needed when dealing with peoples medication. Lordy.

Def. complain OP.

madamginger Thu 09-May-13 13:49:36

Nms and mur check for other things too, not just over prescribing, such as side effects, interactions and more.
Like I said she went about it in the wrong way though

RevoltingPeasant Thu 09-May-13 14:10:38

I'd complain. I'm not a pharmacist, but surely the right thing to do would be to say 'Mrs X? - here <showing you the label> is this drug and dosage right? And we need to check if you've been having any unusual reactions'.


FanjoForTheMammaries Thu 09-May-13 14:13:29


Am surprised noone has mentioned "discrete" yet though wink

FanjoForTheMammaries Thu 09-May-13 14:14:05

i see you got it right second time though grin

Do complain and then they might change their rules and be more discreet.

decaffwithcream Thu 09-May-13 14:23:41

Approximately 1 in 12 adults cannot read a medicine label accurately so she should be doing checks verbally but she sounds like she is appyling her training badly (and at the wrong volume). I would alert the pharmacy as she will have to check medications with people many times daily and further training is obviously needed.

Tailtwister Thu 09-May-13 14:25:10

YANBU, it's inappropriate.

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 14:34:39

I have just emailed the head office for this chain. I said I didn't want to get this person in trouble but a reminder about discretion would be worthwhile.

Mindyourownbusiness Thu 09-May-13 14:58:44

This is one of the reasons l would always order any of the following online:


KY Jelly
Nit shampoo
Pregnancy test
Haemorrhoid cream

Not that we ever have any call for any of above in our household you understand at least,not all at once .

But seriously , yes a stage whisper is inappropriate in a pharmacy.

Fillyjonk75 Thu 09-May-13 15:03:33

God, I would hate to buy condoms from there.

starfishmummy Thu 09-May-13 15:04:53

I collect prescriptions for myself and ds and normally just get asked to confirm my address. Sometimes if it is a different pharmacy I might be asked if I am taking anything else, or "have you had this before" but nother mentioning what it is iyswim.
And surely any questions about the medication should be asked by a qualified pharmacist and not a pharmacy assistant?

Startail Thu 09-May-13 15:09:21

My DSIS first job was in a small village pharmacy, she always took confidentiality very seriously. Knowing which of her peers were on the pill would have made great gossip and got her sacked.

thebody Thu 09-May-13 15:09:28

If she's the counter assistant she shouldn't ask you or tell you anything.

It's a prescription so between you and your GP.

She sounds officious and I would have given her a frozen stare and not replied. Cheeky cow.

HeffalumpTheFlump Thu 09-May-13 15:11:05

I worked as a pharmacists assistant a few years ago and would never have dreamed of doing this! I don't know if there are new policies in place, but the main pharmacist would be the one to discuss any issues like this, not the assistant (in PRIVATE I might add!). The only thing the assistant should be checking is that the name and adress are correct, to ensure the prescription is being given to the right customer. The assistant should trust that the pharmacist has correctly followed the prescription, so I really do not understand why she has done this. Any medication should be a confidential matter regardless of whether it could be seen as embarrassing or not, so you are definitely NBU!

anothershittynickname Thu 09-May-13 15:14:04

I have NEVER in my life been asked I the meds in my / DH's / DC's prescription is correct and I've collected a few in my time.

Only ever asked to confirm my address.

YANBY - I'd definitely complain.

YANBU she sounds terrible.

I once had a lecture from a pharmacy assistant about how the medication I was picking up for my baby DS was 'wasteful' as any remaining in the bottle had to be discarded after 7 days and he should be on the more common drug given for his condition (that he was allergic to!). I was really shocked how I didn't have a massive row with her I don't know!

cowmop Thu 09-May-13 15:31:40

I always used to collect my thousands of pills from the local Lloyds pharmacy until the pharmacist insisted I sit down and do a review with him. He went through every tablet asking what it was for, how long I'd been on it etc. I didn't really get it to be honest as I have a review with my GP every 6 months and hospital consultants every 6 months and as has been said up thread, it's not like he could change anything. I've never had it anywhere else either so not sure if it's a company policy or a government one.

Having said that at least he took me into a cubby for my interrogation and didn't shout across the shop, I really can't blame you for being pissed about that!

jellybelly18 Thu 09-May-13 15:36:03

Would just like to agree that confidentiality and discretion are of the foremost importance but would like to say that it is the pharmacist / pharmacy technicians job to ask these types of questions esp. when the prescribing is slightly unusual purely as a safety net. By slightly unusual I mean for treatment outside normal age ranges than typically indicated or for different indications than usual or if in combination with other drugs etc.

digerd Thu 09-May-13 16:10:29

Very odd!? Why would she be interested if it was working for you?
If anything, I would have quietly and concerned asked, considering your age, if it was the correct prescription or was it for your mum?

We give our name /address and the item(s) are handed to us in a sealed paper bag, with a list of the enclosed items stapled on the front, as a repeat prescription form for next month.

That is not normal.

Weegiemum Thu 09-May-13 16:17:58

Afaik, pharmacists are as liable as the prescribing doctor for the medications they dispense. However, it should be the pharmacist that checks, not the counter assistant (or even dispenser).

Quite a lot of pharmacists do work alongside GPs in providing medication reviews - at my dh's surgery a pharmacist comes in for a session once a fortnight and sees patients on multiple medications, helps with changing, stopping meds etc.

But this kind of loud stuff by the staff is not on. It's not their job to ask about the name of the medicine, they should just check your identity via address, DoB etc but that is all. Complain!

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 16:23:54

madamginger and jellybelly18 I'm with you.

Your medicines are NOT between you and your GP. The Pharmacy team is there to ensure your safety - after all, your GP is not the expert in drugs, it is the Pharmacist.

The assistant is likely to have completed a course allowing her to be able to have more interaction in the clinical side of things with patients.

A lot of you here seem to have not much of an idea about how Pharmacies work. It isn't just a case of picking a box of a shelf and handing it to you.

You're right in that she should have been a bit more tactful in how she spoke - but perhaps to her she felt no reason for you to be embarrassed about your medication smile BUT it was necessary to bring something up if you are using it outside the normal age range - it is good practice to make sure the medicine given out is correct.

PastaBeeandCheese Thu 09-May-13 16:24:57

YANBU. It all sounds as though she was terribly insensitive and I wonder what she intended to say if you had said 'actually, now you ask, they aren't working'. It isn't as though she could prescribe anything else or help or advise you at all really.

Sirzy Thu 09-May-13 16:27:24

If the pharmacist has questions about your drugs then they should have discretely spoken to you.

When the pharmasist has wanted to check my sons inhalers they have offered to speak to me in the consultation room so that certainly should be offered for sometghing much more personal.

Indecisive90 Thu 09-May-13 16:37:45

YANBU to expect discretion. I think contacting the company or even the branch directly and asking to speak to the pharmacist/manager would be the right thing to do. Maybe they need to change their procedures and use the consultation room more. If it helps, chances are nobody in the shop would work out what the medicine was from the name and if they did they wouldn't care. I appreciate that it's a sensitive issue though, I once worked with a pharmacist who explained in great detail and in a very loud voice how to use thrush cream.

I'm really shocked and annoyed by posters who seem to have little to no understanding of a pharmacist's professional and clinical role. Counter assistants are trained to speak to customers/patients and identify any issues. If there are issues they can refer to the pharmacist. As experts in medicines pharmacists can of course offer advice and if necessary can refer you back to the GP or contact them on your behalf to resolve an issue.

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 16:41:43

''Your medicines are NOT between you and your GP. The Pharmacy team is there to ensure your safety - after all, your GP is not the expert in drugs, it is the Pharmacist.''

I haven't mentioned my GP MagicBagette. I said my consultant chose my medication. They are more than qualified to be an expert in the medication I need.

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 16:43:24

holibobs, I was referring to something someone else said, not your OP

bottleofbeer Thu 09-May-13 16:43:51

I went to the local chemist for some cystitis treatment once, no, not an especially embarrassing ailment but still, I'd have preferred the assistant not to shout "is this for cystitis?" across the bloody shop to the pharmacist. Everyone in the shop knew what I was there for. She was a right miserable witch her, I'm sure she did it on purpose.

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 16:43:56

Oh right. Sorry Magic.

valiumredhead Thu 09-May-13 16:45:20

I would have been pissed off too!

digerd Thu 09-May-13 16:46:48

My pharmacist adjoins the medical Practice in a small building. He or she, whoever is on duty, never discusses anything.

I was insulted by the man when, on returning home, I found one of the medications not in the bag. I phoned the reception for another prescription for the missing one.

When I had to go back to collect it, I was told it was not his responsibilty to ensure all the medications on the repeat prescription were in the bag, it was mine. I should have opened the bag and checked before leaving the shop. shock
He said it was my fault, not his.

Sirzy Thu 09-May-13 16:47:10

They are more than qualified to be an expert in the medication I need.

That doesn't mean the pharmacist doesn't have to check things are right though as mistakes are made.

My son (aged 3) is on an inhaler that isn't licensed for under 4s and has been since he was 2 prescribed by a consultant but the pharmacist still checked that this was right before giving us the inhaler. In the same way the dose has just been doubled so they checked again before dispensing.

RevoltingPeasant Thu 09-May-13 16:53:15

But Magic regardless of whether the woman thinks the OP should be embarrassed or not, she should have the common sense to see that this might be embarrassing for some people and so be discreet.

Either she's a trained professional with clinical expertise, in which case one has the right to expect the same discretion as from an HCP - or she's a counter worker who doesn't have the level of responsibility to check these things.

Indecisive90 Thu 09-May-13 16:55:54


It was his responsibility to check that all the medicines on the prescription were in the bag, not all the items on your repeat. That would be the patient's responsibility to make sure they ordered every item and the GP's to ensure they prescribed everything that was ticked. If he was cheeky that was out of order and unprofessional though.

trinity0097 Thu 09-May-13 16:55:57

I was quite surprised the other week to get my prescription for the contraceptive pill filled out in a boots in reading city centre. I was asked by the assistant all kinds of questions about my blood pressure etc, which would be questions that a doctor should ask before prescribing the drug, not in the pharmacy for a prescription that has been written by a doctor. I thought this was very thorough, but totally unnecessary too!

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 16:57:29

Sirzy - As I have said before I have no problem with a pharmacist checking things are ok if it's done in a professional, quiet, subtle way. Come back to me when you need to get Herpes treatment or something and see how you feel when the whole pharmacy knows your business.

The more I think of this the more annoyed I am. Plus she was a counter assistant rather than a pharmacist.

ipswitch Thu 09-May-13 17:02:01

Incredibly cheeky and nosey.
I would use a different pharmacy in future and boycott them.

Sirzy Thu 09-May-13 17:05:11

I have already said they are wrong but I was simply responding to your comment saying that it was the consultant who had made the choice of drug.

Naoko Thu 09-May-13 17:10:08

Pharmacists have an important role to play - I was once prescribed something by my GP that interacted in a dodgy manner with something else I was on, and it was picked up by the pharmacist when I went to collect it. I went back to my GP, she apologised profusely and said the pharmacist was quite right, I was prescribed an alternative medication and all was well, so in that case I was glad the pharmacist took the time to talk to me.

In your case, however, the pharmacy assistant should've exercised more discretion if she felt she needed to ask those questions (and I do actually think it's ok for an assistant to flag something up, if they're wrong someone more qualified will then take a look and say so, if they're right, I'd rather they said something even though it's not technically their job), so YANBU.

madamginger Thu 09-May-13 17:10:47

How do you know she was a counter assistant? She could have been a prereg pharmacist (ie one in training) or a dispenser or like me an ACT technician.
I really hate that people have this idea that pharmacy staff are just shop workers and just stick labels on boxes.

BookFairy Thu 09-May-13 17:13:45

YADNBU. Something similar has happened to me in chain pharmacies. I have called their head offices as I was furious. If you have not asked for advice then they have no business announcing your medication to the world. If they so felt the urge they could ask if you knew how to take the tablets without using the name of it.

It won't help you but I once had a pharmacist assistant loudly ask in front of a large queue: "Oh are you sure this is right? I didn't know they still make contraceptive diaphragms."

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 17:14:25

trinity, it is not totally unnecessary.

You are right, it is the GP's job to find these things out before prescribing. But you would be surprised how many mistakes are made by GPs!

As I said before, the pharmacist is the expert in medicines, not the GP.

It is also the Pharmacist's role to double check all medicines are safe for the patient and the correct medicine for their condition, age, allergies etc.

It is good practice to do this. Otherwise it is the Pharmacist that is held responsible, not the GP.

Although I am aware that the vast majority of the population are completely unaware of this.

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 17:16:46

madamginger - I certainly don't feel that pharmacists are shop assistants. They are highly skilled and qualified people. Perhaps I did assume this girl was an assistant but I guess I could be wrong. I was there about 10 minutes and she took money and restocked shelves. There were 2 others in lab coats in the back. I assume these were the pharmacists,

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 17:18:18

holibob, generally in community pharmacies the Pharmacist wears smart work clothes.

The dispensing assistant etc. will wear a uniform.

toffeelolly Thu 09-May-13 17:31:44

YANBU. Just why could she not have took you aside and asked you , it's just not on the way she just shouted it out for all to hear. She need's to be told that this is not on .

MabliD Thu 09-May-13 17:39:30

yabu, sorry. It's the pharmacist's job to check medication is right and/or effective. There's a big difference between a 'counter assistant' and an ACT too, for example. It's awful that you felt embarrassed, but the consultation room isn't always an option - if it's busy for example or in use for a patient whose need for privacy might be greater e.g. ehc or methadone patients. Complain if you want to of course but they will still check, that's their job.

BookFairy Thu 09-May-13 18:03:26

MabliD so it's the job of pharmacy staff to begin discussing a person's medication, without first asking if that person has taken the medication before or if they need advice? Checking a person knows how to take their medication: yes. Naming the medication in the earshot of other customers: no.

thermalsinapril Thu 09-May-13 18:15:54

YANBU at all. I've never heard of anyone being asked this. It's not part of their job. The prescription is already written, and their job is to dispense it, not quiz the customer about it!

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:22:34

thermalsinapril, if you don't have any sort of knowledge of the topic, which you clearly don't, why bother to post?

Indecisive90 Thu 09-May-13 18:23:56


'It's not part of their job. The prescription is already written, and their job is to dispense it, not quiz the customer about it!'

Do you really believe that's the entire job description of a pharmacist? Purely to dispense exactly what a doctor has prescribed without using any common sense or clinical knowledge to check the prescription? I am honestly interested to know what you think their job is.

Sirzy Thu 09-May-13 18:26:07

Thermals - I suggest you read the whole thread before commenting about the role of the pharmacist.

Wannabestepfordwife Thu 09-May-13 18:28:18

Yanbu I'm 25 and I'm on beta blockers which is quite rare and the pharmacist quizzed me on why I needed them before she would hand them over it made me feel like I was trying to get a fraudulent prescription

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:31:22

wannabe, it is not particularly rare for a younger person to be on beta-blockers.

They can be used in lots of different conditions - I'm not sure where you get that from.

Again, the pharmacist was looking out for your safety.

'It's not part of their job. The prescription is already written, and their job is to dispense it, not quiz the customer about it!'

Yes well your way of doing this would kill people. Prescribers make mistakes. The skill and expertise of a pharmacist (who is legally responsible for what they prescribe) is in ensuring they dispense safely.

In this case the OP was getting a prescription which is typically not prescribed to her age group. Absolutely correct to check the name of the medication etc. If she feels her privacy was infringed then she should (and has) pass that feedback on. She'd complain a damn sight more though if she was given the wrong drugs because the pharmacist didn't do their job

Wannabestepfordwife Thu 09-May-13 18:33:44

magic that's good to know I feel like a right old lady been on them the pharmacist said it was highly unusual for someone of my age to be on them

thermalsinapril Thu 09-May-13 18:34:48

> I'm really shocked and annoyed by posters who seem to have little to no understanding of a pharmacist's professional and clinical role.

Why? confused Do you have an in-depth understanding of the job description of everyone you meet? If there are things patients should know about the "pharmacist's professional and clinical role" then why isn't this made clearly available in pharmacies, instead of patients having to find out in an embarrassing way like the OP? It's not good service to be conceited about one's job role, to the point of thinking everyone else should automatically know about it.

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:38:47

But thermals, surely it is not the right way to go about it to say their job is (what you were implying) easy, and not a complicated and difficult job with a lot of pressure and responsibility?

It has only been you (among others) who have jumped to conclusions about the work of a pharmacist.

As you say, you don't have an understanding of the job. You are in no place to judge if you don't know what you're talking about

'why isn't this made clearly available in pharmacies'

What you mean like the whacking great certificates they have on display detailing their qualification and the vast range of leaflets you have to fight your way past pointing out that your pharmacist is qualified to advise you on x, y and z. Not to mention the fact that any time you'll be in a pharmacy the pharmacist will invariably be advising a customer on what they can use for their complaint. And the fact that all the NHS resources online and on paper will point to a pharmacy as one of the places you should go for help and advice. Yup. It's really hard to know that a pharmacist is a useful sort of HCP hmm

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:40:45

wannabe, one of my friends was taking a beta-blocker from the age of 15 to prevent migraines.

She later developed asthma, and is now taking a low-dose antidepressant that also works for preventing migraines!

Drugs have loads of different uses - but it is good practice for the pharmacist to check it is suitable smile

BookFairy Thu 09-May-13 18:41:19

Some people won't be bothered if others in the pharmacy overhear, other people will. Surely this should be taken into consideration by a pharmacist? Sometimes I have a pharmacist show me the box and ask if I have taken this medication before. This is fine. I have also had a pharmacist ask loudly (in front of other customers) how long I have had epilepsy. This is not fine.

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:41:44

Northern - great point!

Indecisive90 Thu 09-May-13 18:43:14


I'm shocked (surprised may be a better word) in general by the poor understanding of a profession almost all of us encounter fairly regularly. It's not that I blame people because you're right, it isn't well-publicised and that's what surprises me. The government expect the public to use pharmacies for more basic health checks like blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol, without really publicising that a pharmacist is qualified for that.

I'm not a community pharmacist so this isn't my job role. But I am curious, you didn't answer my question. What do you as a (I presume) general member of the public not associated with a health care profession think a pharmacist's role is?

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:45:59

This really is quite interesting actually - I wonder if this is the view of a very large proportion of the population?

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 18:47:31

Okey. Don't turn this into a slanging match.

I am sure we now see that a qualified pharmacist can advise and question about our medication and I'm sure we all agree that personal details shouldn't be loudly commented on. Anyway as I said I have emailed the head office to said I was concerned that this person needed a reminder about being discreet.

Thanks for all your thoughts and advise everyone. I appreciate it.

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:48:38

Sounds good holibob!

Sorry you experienced that

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 18:50:12

*advice not advise!

holibobs Thu 09-May-13 18:50:23

Thanks Magic.

Indecisive90 Thu 09-May-13 18:51:06


I think it is unfortunately. I studied Pharmacy and the number of people who replied 'oh I didn't think you'd need a degree for that' when I told them is unbelievable. I've been called conceited for thinking people should know about a pharmacist's role but I do think it's a profession with massive misconceptions by the public so I take every opportunity to try to put those right.

Indecisive90 Thu 09-May-13 18:52:57

Okay that did sound a bit stuck up, 'put them right', that's not how I meant it.

Glad you've done something about it holibobs, I think you did the right thing.

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:54:14

indecisive grin ditto.

'What, so you're going to work in a shop?'

'I didn't know you needed a degree for that'

'Oh, you're going to work behind the till in Boots?'

Luckily there has been the occasional person who was shocked and replied, 'Wow, isn't that meant to be really hard??'

Yes. Yes it is hard sad

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 18:55:32

If you're putting them right, it's also putting them right for their own benefit.

There are so many things a pharmacist can help with - I'd love it if everyone was more aware of the services!

Indecisive90 Thu 09-May-13 18:58:44


'Did you not get into Medicine then?' wink

Do you have long to go? Three more months for me (I hope!).

Thread hijack, sorry.

hazeyjane Thu 09-May-13 18:59:43

perhaps to her she felt no reason for you to be embarrassed about your medication.

Well that's not really her call is it? Surely if you you are a hcp, then confidentiality is part of your job. I wouldn't expect my gp to pop her head out and say, 'Mrs Hazeyjane are you hear to talk about your ......'

In our chemist, they have their roles on their badges - does no-one else have this?

MagicBaguette Thu 09-May-13 19:00:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pharmacistonanamechange Thu 09-May-13 19:16:26

Right. I'll wade in here with some factually correct information.

I'm a community pharmacist. I am 50% responsible in the eyes of the law for every prescription only medicine I dispense. If I require any further information from the patient before dispensing I will ask for it. I will not let something out of my pharmacy unless I am completely happy that it is the right medication, for the right patient at the right dose with no interactions with any existing medications. If I am unable to get to the counter (because I am already either engaged with another patient, on the phone to a patient or doctor, checking a prescription, sourcing a difficult to find medication, doing audit jobs for the nhs or any of the extra jobs my employer gives me - whilst listening to all the sales over the counter), then I will ask a qualified technician to counsel on my behalf.

This should, absolutely, occur in confidence. However in practice this is extremely difficult. Some years ago it was decided to open up pharmacies so that we are more accessible. however this means there is nowhere quiet at the counter and the whole counter is open plan. There is a consultation room but this is often in use. it is therefore impractical to ask patients to wait for the room to become available to ask one or two questions to confirm appropriateness of the prescription. (Surprisingly, patients are unwilling to wait any length of time for a prescription because 'it's only sticking a label on a box', how can it take 10 minutes?)

You would not believe the amount of time I've had to ask the next in line on the counter to please step back, because as soon as I open my mouth to speak to a patient the whole queue becomes extremely interested. (Nosy).

I, and my team, do try and keep our voices as quiet as possible, even though many of my patients are elderly and hard of hearing. If I have something sensitive to say I will always come out from the counter into the pharmacy, take the patient to one side and turn my back to the other customers whilst speaking quietly to maintain privacy.

I'd also like to say (as I have this at work all the time, because people think it's none of my business), that it absolutely is my business what other medications you take if you are buying medicines from behind the counter (pharmacy only medicines - sold under the supervision of a pharmacist - the key is in the name). This is because I'm 100% legally responsible for the sale of these. If you have an adverse reaction to anything sold, or an interaction with an existing medicine and you die as a result - I am negligent if I haven't asked, or had an assistant ask on my behalf. Result of this for me: at best - struck off and loss of job, at worst - prison sentence.

Phew! Bit of a rant there. Sorry.

hazeyjane Thu 09-May-13 19:24:29

But the op said that she asked loudly in front the other customers.

Our chemist is tiny, always crowded and the pharmacist and staff are always very discreet, and manage to be able to ask questions quietly without anyone hearing.

Pharmacistonanamechange Thu 09-May-13 19:25:19

Holibobs, cross posted - unsurprisingly blush

Your're right to email, a gentle reminder about confidentiality is appropriate here. My post was more directed to those who seem to not understand the clinical aspect of a pharmacists role.


Sirzy Thu 09-May-13 19:30:02

Good post pharmacist. A GP once prescribed the wrong type of inhaler to DS and I was thankful that the pharmacist noticed, and sorted it with the GP rather than leaving me with an inhaler a 3 year old wouldn't be able to take simply because it is what has been prescribed.

On the having to ask for pharmacy only medicines - how could it be proved someone has been asked? Surely if someone was that way inclined they could deny having been asked even if they had been?

Indecisive90 Thu 09-May-13 19:30:02


I don't have any unfortunately. I'm a hospital pre-reg and there aren't many jobs.

That was lovely and articulate Pharmacist. I'd have liked that to be the last word but didn't want to be rude and not reply to Magic, sorry.

Pharmacistonanamechange Thu 09-May-13 19:41:16

Sirzy - if someone wanted to be malicious and say they were never asked then, yes, it would be difficult to conclusively prove otherwise. However it is part of standard questioning and training at our pharmacy which we monitor and check continuously, so that should be enough to prove on the balance of probabilities that it was sold correctly. Where it is difficult is when someone is determined to purchase something and they lie to obtain it...
Fortunately for me, in that instance, the responsibility is their own, because if someone says they are on no other medication when they are - there is nothing I can do. I have to trust the information given to me.

jellybelly18 Thu 09-May-13 20:04:46

Well said pharmacist

hotbot Thu 09-May-13 20:12:13

I love pharmacists
, sensible knowledgable, extremely helpful, saving lots of my time and the g.p.s time. First port of call for me is a pharmacist for advice,

ShadowStorm Thu 09-May-13 20:25:19

YANBU to think that the pharmacy assistant should have been more discreet when talking to you about your medication.

MamaMumra Thu 09-May-13 20:31:18

Oops pmed you before I read your last few posts smile

Heebiejeebie Thu 09-May-13 20:51:44

I'm a hospital consultant and I rely heavily on my pharmacy colleagues to advise and basically cover my ass. The OP's experience sounds a bit shit, but honestly you're all better off with a qualified person double checking. If the health service is further degraded and you are given the choice between a silent, speedy robot pumping out a box of pills or a person talking to you and making sure you've got the right medication, please, please choose the qualified professional.

cumfy Thu 09-May-13 20:55:34


An MUR (Medication review) requires signed patient consent

The thing is that pharmacies seem to have targets (400/year), so maybe she was testing the water, before proceeding.
I can imagine that most people wouldn't think the pharmacist is the person to discuss this with.

StayAwayFromTheEdge Thu 09-May-13 21:10:32

I am a Pharmacist; every time I give out a prescription I ask the patient if they have had it before and if they have any problems with their medication that they would like to discuss.

If it is an acute medication - Antibiotic, pain relief etc I will go through the instructions and warn of any common side-effects.

It a patient has warfarin - I will check there yellow card.

If a patient has methtrexate - I will check that bloods are being done regularly.

Etc, etc

It is what is is expected of us and what we are trained to do. Of course we must also respect the patients confidentiality.

A particular problem with HRT is that several companies make what is in effect the same product; for example if you are prescribed estradiol tablets there is a option of Elleste, Climaval, Progynova or Zumenon - Most patients prefer to stick with one brand, so we usually check with the patient.

Cumfy - there is no target of 400 MURs - That is the maximum number we are expected to do and are usually targeted towards respiratory patients, those taking high-risk meds and recent hospital discharges.

MamaMumra Thu 09-May-13 21:14:36

Thanks heebie smile - I think hospital pharmacists get a lot more respect and recognition for what they do compared to community pharmacists. You are absolutely right in what you say. It sounds like this pharmacy is part of a large chain, so the assistant should know that discretion is key.

Talking of robots, have you heard of the ATM like dispensing machines? collects p45

SageYourResoluteOracle Thu 09-May-13 21:38:58

Just want to put my tuppence worth in here.

I think there are some very astute and reasonable responses given by pharmacists.

Holibobs- I've been on HRT since I was 31. I hate using it as often when I have to collect a repeat or go for a review with my GP (who really doesn't understand POF/ premature menopause) I have to go in to lengthy explanations as to why I'm on it. It makes me feel 'different' because I know full well it's unusual for someone my age to be taking it. I feel your pain at the lack of discretion you experienced.

cumfy Fri 10-May-13 01:04:53

StayAway, unfortunately I think a lot of pharmacies will see it like that.

At £25 a patient, that's £10k/year straight on the bottom line of the business.

Any chain with 100+ pharmacies will be looking at £1M/year.

I really would be surprised if there is not significant exploitation of this arrangement.

MayTheOddsBeEverInYourFavour Fri 10-May-13 02:06:38


a bit of discretion is not too much to ask for

I'm on a lot of strong painkillers and so the pharmacists are usually very thorough ( which I appreciate) but there was one time when one shouted out a list of my meds from the other end of the counter and because of that I was almost mugged for my bag of drugs shock thank goodness my massive DH arrived in the nick of time or it could have been really nasty

Hopefully your email will mean the person involved gets a reminder on the importance of confidentiality

EnglishEponine Fri 10-May-13 03:12:02

Don't want to go too much into the pharmacy's-role part of the conversation just wanted to add my tale of woe, having once been asked veeery loudly by the counter assistant, with several customers within easy earshot, whether my doctor had said anything to me about my particular combination of migraine prophylaxis and antidepressants being taken with the oral contraceptive pill hmm

I was bloody fuming. Back then I was too meek to point out the obvious flaws but if that happened now I would be, let's say, somewhat vocal with my objection smile

StayAwayFromTheEdge Fri 10-May-13 07:32:02

Cumfy - most pharmacies will have enough patients with significant medication issues to reach 400 - the main issue is finding the time to do them. The outcomes speak for themselves.

One of the criteria for an MUR is that the patient must be taking more than one medicine - so a patient who is only taking HRT wouldn't be eligible.

You do realise that that GPs get paid for providing services don't you?

cumfy Fri 10-May-13 12:22:26

You do realise that that GPs get paid for providing services don't you?

Yes, and maybe I'm looking at this rather naively, but I had assumed that prior to the MUR arrangements the way that pharmacies made money (from prescriptions) was by putting a mark up on all the prescribed drugs.

Maybe the government has taken away some money with one hand and given it back in the form of MUR, but basically I had no clue that there were any NHS "service" payments per se of any type to pharmacies.

Hence, I naively concluded this seemed like ~£10k pure profit for pharmacies.

Please enlighten me! grin

olivertheoctopus Fri 10-May-13 12:24:42

Since when is is anything to do with the pharmacist's assistant whether the drug is working for you or not? That's an issue for you and the prescribing dr. YANBU.

Fakebook Fri 10-May-13 12:34:21

Meh. I doubt anyone knows names of HRT medicines off the top of their head. If they'd said something like Methadone and then asked you if it was working, that would have been something to get angry about.

I don't know which poster wrote they only buy pregnancy tests and haemorrhoid cream online: why? What's embarrassing about that? confused

cumfy Fri 10-May-13 13:01:30

Cumfy - most pharmacies will have enough patients with significant medication issues to reach 400

I live in a city of 500,000.

Google lists way over 150 pharmacies in the city. (Way over but I checked the first 150 looked kosher).

So if they all did 400 MURs that would be 60,000/year in a pop of 500,000. 12%.

At a wild guess, I would expect to find an incidence of less than 1% of the pop fitting the profile you describe for MUR.

So, I'm not sure it's obvious that pharmacies, on average, will be seeing 400.

Sorry I'm not trying to pick on you; I'm just genuinely curious about how this all works.

holibobs Fri 10-May-13 13:19:38

Thanks Sage - I'm glad someone else understands the circumstances behind taking HRT when still young. Every time I see the nurse to get the prescription she always asks why I'm on it. It pisses me off! I don't like talking about it all. Isn't it enough that I had to go through all this while in my 20s? Isn't it enough that I can't have children? I know they are only interested (can see it in their faces when they ask!) but I hate, hate, hate it!

StayAwayFromTheEdge Fri 10-May-13 16:47:07

Comfy - pharmacy funding is incredibly complicated and not easy to explain. Simply put we get paid for the drugs at cost at a set tariff (no mark up and there never was) plus a fee for dispensing. Since our new contract in 2005 our fees and allowances have been gradually reduced so most pharmacies now have less income than they did before - some of this can be clawed back by providing advanced and enhanced services.

Looking at MURs there are approximately 15 million people living with long term conditions in England and 13300 pharmacies. That gives each pharmacy on average 1100 patients who could benefit from an MUR. Obviously population demographics plays a part and there will be less need in for example the leafy suburbs of Surrey compared to inner city Salford.

The town I work in has 73 pharmacies and and a gap in life expectancy of 13.5 years between the rich and the poor - there is no shortage of patients only time.

Pharmacies also provide a whole range of services which are commissioned according to local need and attract additional payments. These could include:
- stop smoking
- drug services
- Morning after pill
- minor ailments
- chlamydia screening

Clairdelune0 Wed 30-Oct-13 19:48:21

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

PeppiNephrine Wed 30-Oct-13 20:00:04

Please stop bumping zombie chemist threads for your possibly libellous ranting. hmm

candycoatedwaterdrops Wed 30-Oct-13 20:05:10

WTF is a 'manageress'?? Sexist bullshit.

3asAbird Wed 30-Oct-13 20:19:42

The other month dident feel quite right.

went to co-op to gte cheap preg test.

co-op chemist.

I picked up 2.99 one.

but someone had stocked up shelf wrong.
she says 4.99 i was like thats wrong price.

then she shouts over the room to her supervisor the preg tests in wrong place can she void it off till whilst queue started to form.

Was very cross.

thankfully no preggers.

but made mental note dont go back there.

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