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How much could pharmacies earn from an hour of advanced services a day?

“An hour a day could help keep the blues away” for pharmacies struggling financially, an expert has claimed.

Offering advanced services for 55 minutes a day has the potential to earn pharmacies an additional £16,645 annually, Avicenna head of membership services Tania Meagher has estimated.

At a conference hosted by Avicenna last weekend (September 17), Ms Meagher said that by running one new medicine service (NMS) appointment, one hypertension service appointment, one flu jab and one community pharmacist consultation service (CPCS) appointment every day, pharmacies could earn “between £292.90 and £332.90 per week”.

Ms Meagher calculated that over a year, taking into account bank holidays, these services could make pharmacies up to £16,645 “straight to the bottom line”.

She told delegates that “on average” these services take a total of “up to 55 minutes – approximately an hour” – 10 minutes each for the NMS and blood pressure check, 15 minutes for a flu jabs and 20 minutes for a CPCS consultation.

“I know it's easy for me to stand here and say that's all the time it takes”, she admitted, but stressed that “an hour a day could help keep the blues away”.

 

Tips and tricks 

 

Ms Meagher highlighted that all members of a pharmacy team could help to increase uptake of these services – for example that “anyone can start the conversation” to encourage a patient to use the NMS.

She suggested staff say that “the pharmacist has noticed you have a new medicine and would like to speak to you quickly about it today”, then “hand them to the pharmacist”.

Pharmacies earn between £20 and £28 for each completed NMS, according to Community Pharmacy England (CPE).

Similarly, Ms Meagher said that “anyone can have an initial conversation…asking customers over 40 if they’ve had any [hypertension] checks recently”.

Hypertension services – which she said must include both a clinic blood pressure check and ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) – bring in £15 for the initial check or a combined £60 per patient, according to the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA).

Ms Meagher also calculated that pharmacies could offer around 600 flu jabs per season on average – paid at £9.58 per vaccine this year.

Speaking to delegates, she said that “many of you will be doing far in excess of 600” jabs over the season, as the service “has been around for quite a while and most people are offering it”.

And she admitted that the CPCS “can be contentious” as “some areas [do] far better than others” and stressed that pharmacies must remember to “close” completed consultations on their IT platform, otherwise they will not receive the £14 fee for completed consultations.

 

A financial lifeline?

 

The financial breakdown comes a week after think tanks the King’s Fund and Nuffield Trust released their CPE-commissioned “vision” for the sector recommending that pharmacies offer five additional mandatory services.

Also at the Avicenna conference, one member of the audience raised concerns that they can be “bombarded with services all day long”, asking panellists when they will “get [their] life back”.

Meanwhile, earlier this month MPs pointed to a funding “black hole” of “at least” £67,000 per pharmacy that means pharmacies are unable to deliver new services.

And a clinical services expert estimated that private weight management services could generate hundreds of thousands of pounds per year for struggling pharmacies.

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