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'Top’ UK travel health pharmacy: Without private services ‘we'd 100% be selling’

Offering a travel health service has helped one pharmacy group “plug the gap” amid the sector’s funding shortfall, with one branch alone making almost £412,000 a year from the service. 

One pharmacy chain “would 100% be selling…closing down or merging” pharmacies if it weren’t for the seven-figure success of its private services, C+D has learned.

Speaking to C+D last week (April 17), Raylane Pharmacy Group head of operations Kalpesh Patel said it felt “great” for one of the group’s pharmacies to be branded the “UK's top performing pharmacy travel clinic service” by pharmacy service provider Pharmadoctor.

The company found that between April 2023 and March 2024, James Pharmacy in Cheltenham delivered 3,353 travel health consultations - averaging 279 per month. The service generated “over £411,900” for the pharmacy, it said.

Patel told C+D that across just five of the group’s nine pharmacies, private services as a whole including travel jabs, blood tests and private COVID vaccines account for “a million pounds of turnover”.

After starting six years ago, the travel health service had a “good first couple of years” before the COVID-19 pandemic and “coming out of COVID people are traveling a lot now and the appetite for vaccines is much higher”, he said.

He told C+D that Raylane Pharmacy’s sites have “a minimum of two consultation rooms” and pay the pharmacists who carry out a travel jab “10% of the sale”.

“That's probably been one of the main drivers behind it being so successful – pharmacists are fully involved,” he added. 

 

“We need to make up a shortfall”

 

The success of the group’s private services has been essential to keep its pharmacies afloat during the sector’s financial crisis, Patel told C+D.

He said that the sector is “moving away from typical dispensing and moving into service-based contracts” – “that's where we need to make up a bit of a shortfall”.

Offering private services “definitely plugs some financial gaps,” he added.

“For those sites where there are gaps [and] we're making losses, with a private service we’re plugging that gap and putting that pharmacy in profit,” he said.

“If it wasn't for those private services, we would 100% be selling those pharmacies or closing down or merging,” he added.

Last month, C+D’s Salary Survey revealed that contractors were left struggling to “make ends meet” with the majority reporting a drop in profitability and their own take-home pay last year.

And this week, C+D revealed that since 2021, the number of qualified, trainee and student pharmacists seeking grants and support with debts, benefits and housing have skyrocketed.

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