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Monday, 2 April 2007

Can you say No to your boss?

Being a Chinese, I was brought up to honour and respect the elderly, or the seniors. Whether I obey my parents all the time throughout my teenagers is a separate matter.

I am in the medicine management team, the title says it all. Anything that has to do with medication come to us. I am responsible for prescribing advice to the GPs. My manager is a pharmacist, but hasn’t been practicing in the community as he doesn’t do locums. The deputy, Ms A  whom I often blog about is the engine of this team. She makes this happen and she is good at it. My manager, on the other hand, is a softy, nice person, but not as passionate and as driven as Ms. Then there are me and Mr. W. We are the not-so-loud pharmacist in the team. Then we have two other non-pharmacists in our team, Ms. T and Mrs R. Ms T is a data analyst and Mrs. R is a community pharmacy project facilitator who gets the same pay as I do, but does admin job mainly. Ms T does the main bulk of the work, but gets the lowest pay.

This has been bugging me for a while. The Deputy feels handicapped when Ms. T is off sick or on annual leave. She panicked when there was an event that needed to be organized and Ms. T is not around. I often wonder about this hierarchy and this pay scale issue. No doubt the doctors save lives but that doesn’t mean that the ambulance driver is not important. Everything is interdependent. But why do some get rewarded more than others? I don’t have the answers, just one of my unanswered questions. Another point to proof my point of inequal distribution of wealth round the planet!

So  back to my main headline, one of the many mundane silly task that I need to do is to update the pricelist of some medicinal product in order to pay the community pharmacist accordingly, based on a Minor Ailment Scheme. Minor Ailment scheme is a scheme where the patient no longer needs to make an appointment with the GP for something minor like fever or constipation. The reason for most people to see their GPs instead of buying these products from the pharmacy because they don’t need to pay the cost if they see their GPs. So in order to improve access, yet still providing free medication, we have this scheme. Patient go to their GP and get one of the voucher to the local pharmacist. Local pharmacist does a mini consultation and give them the product. We , the headquarter, then receive these voucher, reimburse the pharmacist for the product PLUS £5 for consultation.

For obvious reason, when I started this job, I was asked to update the pricelist. Used to be every 3 months of going through the pricelist and update the price for each product in the scheme, but now it’s an annual exercise. So today, we have a pre-registered pharmacist with us for attachment. So she was asked to do it. She had some queries then Mr. W discussed with me.

Mrs R, who is the project facilitator who was first asked to do this task ages ago but refused, commented, “ Both of you pharmacists are having discussion over this pricelist. This proves that you need a pharmacist to do the job, not me. “

I was very irritated to be honest. I look at her and smile, (with irritation brewing within), “ You don’t need a pharmacist to do this. A discussion was generated because the product isn’t there in this new issue of pricelist.”

Mrs R replied .. “ oh oh.. still you are having discussion  bla bla.. I’m just won’t do it  .. “

I wanted to snap at her so much but I kept it here. I wanted to tell her that A), you definitely do not need a pharmacist to update the pricelist, and B) don’t use crap excuse like you are not a pharmacist to cover up the fact that you don’t want to do it because it’s mundane and boring, an C) if I want you to do it, I can just give it to you, without asking your permission.


It’s so different working in the UK, or maybe in the NHS. I have had people saying no to me on several occasions. I do some of Ms T job, in making graphs and excel sheet and data entry exercise. I also spend some time with Mrs R teaching her how to do excel sheet and do evaluation of a project. I have been doing some of Mrs R job, because she can’t do it, and she is not a pharmacist. She is not good with IT skills either, so she does things like colouring our newsletter, and attach some Microsoft clipart and some payment. She asks me about the wording of statements she makes in her report. So, I am helping her and teaching her how to do her job? Same payscale? Another example of overpaid, underwork (I’m the first example). And she still dares to make comments like that?

One thing I learn about NHS, I have to speak my mind eventhough I might not get what I want, including saying No to many manager. But the truth is, I am not confrontational, and I am not good at saying no. I’m afraid of upsetting people. I am a people pleaser. I don’t’ have the “hate- me-all- you- want, but I will do it “ mentality. This is the environment that you can say NO to your manager. I have been assigned to take one some role that is unimportant, boring ones, while my colleague gets to attend the juicy ones. I can’t say no, because I don’t know how to.

So yes, I can say No to my boss.
And NO, I am not good at speaking my mind without sounding b.l.u.n.t.

Sharpener anyone?


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