Independent contractor: Cuts may close pharmacy in 6 months
A contractor in London has given his independent pharmacy six months to survive the 12% funding drop in England.
Rohit Kotecha, owner and manager of Chauhan pharmacy in Clerkenwell, London, said that as his business dispenses "about" 2,500-2,700 prescriptions per month, it “will close” in half a year unless his fortunes change.
The loss of the £25,000 establishment payment in England in December will “eventually…hit us very badly”, Mr Kotecha told C+D earlier this month (January 17).
"In six months, I have to make a decision as to whether there is enough income to continue," he added.
The pharmacy was one of two independents the chair of Mr Kotecha’s local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) had calculated might close because they dispense under the 3,000-item-per-month "threshold for the pharmacies to exist”.
“[These are] very scary times. The staff are worried. It's a very stressful period for us and at the end of the day the people who suffer will be the patients,” Mr Kotecha said.
Increased pressure on A&E
While the cuts have "only just started", Mr Kotecha said they are already having an effect on his day-to-day business.
Chauhan Pharmacy's free prescription delivery service is "under review" and will probably end soon, said Mr Kotecha. He predicted this would mean patients would “not take [their] medicine at the right time, their conditions will deteriorate [and] they will eventually have to go to A&E”.
Mr Kotecha is considering reducing staff hours, but stressed: "We can't cut the staff; we can't cut the wages."
Elderly patients in the area will also “be more lonely" if his pharmacy closed, he said.
“It’s a community. There are people who come into the pharmacy and you see them every day or every week just to say: ‘Hello, how are you’. [We] cheer them up, you can't put a price on that. The older ones want to talk to somebody," Mr Kotecha said.
Staff "on the brink"
The pharmacy currently offers a smoking cessation clinic and emergency hormonal contraception. But Mr Kotecha claimed Chauhan cannot innovate further without income from more NHS-commissioned services, as his staff of three are already “on the brink” of their capacity.
"What else can we do? So much work goes on behind the scenes of a pharmacy."
Chauhan is part of the eight-strong Niemans Chemists chain, of which Mr Kotecha is director. Subsidies provided by the chain are “one of the reasons we managed to survive so long”, he added.
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