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‘National shortage’ of drivers behind AAH delivery delays, wholesaler says

Wholesaler AAH has apologised to pharmacy contractors impacted by delayed or missed deliveries, citing a “national shortage of commercial drivers” and general “staff shortages”.

These two factors have caused “disruptions to our operations in a small number of locations”, an AAH spokesperson told C+D yesterday (October 4).

“We apologise for the impact on our customers and appreciate their patience at this time.”

The wholesaler’s apology came after pharmacy contractors took to Twitter to complain of delayed deliveries and missing items earlier this week.


Mike Hewitson, owner of The Abbey Pharmacy in Sherborne and Beaminster Pharmacy in Beaminster, Dorset, told C+D that his business has been having issues with its AAH orders “for weeks and weeks now”.

“They’ve missed over 50% of our deliveries this month,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, Waqas Ahmad - a Merseyside-based community pharmacist and contractor who manages a small independent pharmacy chain - said that “whole deliveries or part deliveries [had been] missing consistently for months, with the last two weeks being particularly bad”.

He told C+D on Monday (October 3) that that morning’s delivery had not arrived, with AAH first saying it “should” arrive that afternoon, and then the following morning.  

“We have been missing something at least two or three times a week,” he claimed.


Driver shortage an “excuse”


The AAH spokesperson said the wholesaler was “actively recruiting for drivers, but the national shortage of commercial drivers has made this increasingly difficult”.

However, Mr Hewitson accused AAH of “hiding behind the ‘driver shortage’ excuse”.

Although Mr Hewitson had been “reassured” that new drivers were supposed to join AAH on Monday, which would “put an end” to the delays, the wholesalers had again missed that day’s evening delivery, he claimed.  

He added that the wholesaler had not handled the situation “at all well” by failing to communicate when deliveries would not arrive.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahmad said he had raised the delivery issues with AAH “a while” ago, and was told  “they [were] working on it, but it is a very challenging time for them at the moment”.

The AAH spokesperson told C+D that the wholesaler works “closely with [its] agency partners” in the event of a delayed delivery, “to make sure they can continue to meet patient needs and fully restore the service we deliver for our customers”.


A “flippin’ mess”


Mr Hewitson said the missed deliveries were causing “real problems with workflow”, with his team “having to duplicate orders because stock hasn’t arrived”.

“It’s an absolute flippin’ mess,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahmad said his patients “have [had] to wait longer for their medication”.

“I’m not aware of anyone that has had to go without, as we have managed to share stock across our sites in emergency situations," he said.

However, he believes that there is "a very real risk” of patients having to go without their items. “If we were a single pharmacy, it could well have been the case,” he said.

Mr Ahmad said his branches had experienced “some issues with all the wholesalers” it used.

Although AAH “has been the worst”, all of them have “had service disruptions and missed deliveries”, he claimed.

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