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2 in 5 pharmacists expect to stop home deliveries after cuts

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Nearly 30% of respondents may reconsider filling dosette boxes as a result of reduced funding

Nearly two-fifths of pharmacists may reconsider medicine deliveries to patients’ homes as a result of the government’s 12% funding cut, a C+D poll has revealed.

Of 155 respondents to a straw poll, conducted on the C+D website October 18-21, 39% said they may have to stop free home deliveries once the government’s plan to slash England’s pharmacy funding by £113 million comes into force in December.

A further 29% said they would reconsider filling dosette boxes or monitored dosage systems (MDS) on behalf of patients.

Just under one-fifth (19%) of respondents said preparing blister packs would be a service they would have to reconsider as a result of the funding drop.

Only 8% of pharmacists in the poll remained positive that none of their services would be affected by the cuts.

The results of the poll – which were revealed in C+D’s Twitter chat last Friday (October 21) – suggest that 6% of respondents believe “other services” will be impacted by the government’s funding “package” for the sector.

During the Twitter chat, Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director at JWW Allison & Sons in Cockermouth, Cumbria said he would “hate to withdraw” any of his pharmacy’s services because of the funding cut, but “something will have to give”.

A C+D reader posting as Daniel C commented that “it is unsustainable to continue to offer free services” and his pharmacy would have to start charging to offset the impact of the funding cuts.

Earlier this month, the National Pharmacy Association said government plans to allow pharmacists to provide new emergency care services were a "smoke screen" for the funding cuts. 

The C+D Twitter conversation around the funding cuts is still ongoing. Follow #CDcutschat to catch up on the discussion or to share your views, and look out for more coverage online and in the magazine in the coming weeks.

Result

Which of your pharmacy's services may you have to reconsider if the funding cut goes ahead?
Medicine deliveries to patients' homes
39%
Preparing blister packs
19%
Filling dosette boxes/MDS
29%
Other services
6%
None - our services will not be affected by the cuts
8%
Total votes: 155
Some highlights from the #CDcutschat
18 Comments
Question: 
How will the funding cut affect your pharmacy's services?

Paul Miyagi, Information Technology

There is a way. Legislate so you cannot incentivise , therefore it would be prohibited for all . --- For those that require it, there would be a charge.

Afterall , it was made so drug compamies could not incentivise GP's.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Load of cobblers. If pharmacists had a back bone they'd be dangerous.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

We are generally a bunch of invertebrates aren't we?

Jatin Morjaria, Community pharmacist

I seriously think that if there was no greed in the profession we would not be in the position we are now!!!! To expect unity in the profession would require a miracle in its own right. If you are not prepared to provide a free service, I am sure that the Pharmacy down the road is- seriously people stop living in a cloud cukoo land- We have created the monsters that are biting our backsides- no sabre rattling is going to put them back in the bag!!!! 

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Completely agree - free services have got to be a thing of the past, if pharmacy is to survive. We have always been a soft profession and agreed to do a lot of things for free, and the result now speaks for itself - do all this plus more for free!! If anyone has a business hat on, stop all the freebies. Patients may temporarily transfer to the pharmacy down the road, but everyone at some point is going to change their model through pressure of work. There has been enough noise made about patient-care, the genuine ones deserve it but majority don't. And with most CCGs stopping repeat prescription ordering, it is an ideal time to tell patients to take the responsibility back. Why would any pharmacist not welcome this - it's a lot less headache and you finally get some peace!

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

I suspect pigs are more likely to fly. But if they do Boots and others will be waiting..........

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Yes and they will be sticking the advertising banners on those flying pigs

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Blister packs are an interesting one. For the extra time it has taken to prepare you are effectively bleeding money. Same with nursing homes, many a time I have witnessed an independent struggle to prepare x number of beds, employing additional staff, hiring locums, that when worked out financially profits are improved by removing them from the business. With the additional cuts, I can foresee a lot of care home struggling to find pharmacies that will dispense their medicines in the future. And who suffers? The patients.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

MDS & care homes are a strange one. All logic seems to go out the window. I work for a smaller chain that will bite off your hand to do a care home. They just seem blinkered into chasing numbers of scripts with no regards to what it's costing them - spending £2 to make £1. Maybe in these leaner times they might start to look a bit closer at the balance sheet!

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

We have already refused to do nursing homes unless they pay us to do it., The time taken and the costs associated make this impossible for us as a small independent to fund

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

You are indulging in the fantastical if you think pharmacists are actually going to carry out any of their typically hollow threats. As with most of these threats, they are not acted upon simply out of distrust of other pharmacists. 

As a contractor you are not going to stop 'free' deliveries because you know another contractor will seize the opportunity to gain market share. As a locum you are not going to take part in a boycott of a particular company because you know another locum with seize the opportunity to gain regular bookings. As an employee pharmacist you are not going to speak out at a managers meeting because you know other managers will look down at the table in silence and make you look like the trouble maker. 

 

Jaz Kaur, Pharmacy

Everyone needs to stop this nonsense of free delivery .  The big boys would probably stop if the smaller ones did - after all they were the last ones to start delivering for free, now everyone is paying the price.

Old Timer, Manager

none will introduce a charge and some cowboys will even offer inducements to deliver ,running vans and employing drivers sends the signal that pharmacy is still doing very well .

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Absolutely agree with Lucky and Stephen and Sharon... but you know what'll happen? As soon as you or I start charging for delivery/blister packs/etc. our fellow pharmacists down the road will gladly do it for free and welcome our customers with open arms. Pharmacy needs some solidarity - something which it has always lacked and probably always will. For what it's worth I think the NHS should be paying for blister packs and delivery... but that ain't gonna happen.

Sharon Stone, Communications

I was hoping to see " 5 in 5" pharmacists stopping this ridiculous charade . Only genuine housebound people should receive this.

Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Been a major bugbear of mine for years - just restrict your delivery service to housebound people and you'll slash it in half. Tell all the lazy ones to get off their backsides and pick their own up and it'll save quite a bit.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

I expect charges for currently "free" services to be introduced. After all, customers will happily pay for a delivery when they are spending their own money, why should it be unrealistic to for them to pay when they are recieving a service which is otherwise free (i.e. prescriptions). Maybe this would reduce the abuse of the system (patients not at home at time of delivery)? Who knows?!

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

Customers will happily pay for fully loaded hot and spicy junk food delivery (unless free within short distance of  establishment in which case they could walk and delay their journey to obesity and type 2 diabetes but won't) because all the otheoperatorss will charge them too if outside the immediate boundary and not spending a minimum transaction. Real world economics.

They do however equate delivery of medicine these days as an absolute right because it is' the NHS ', particularly if they pay for scripts and those who have never contributed  have the same view. They will not pay unless all pharmacies charged a fee, and would go to those who didn't levy (you  canguess what will happen with the obliging 'let's stand shoulder to shoulder' pharmacist down the road?). The public at large will not care less about community pharmacy until they are seriously inconvenienced in some way or forced to pay for some thing they have always taken for granted.

A friend told me a story of someone swimming under a bridge after flooding in the area to open the pharmacy and try to provide a service. How quickly such selfless action will be forgotten if a delivery fee is now suddenly  required . Forget  the fact the local pharmacy heroically managed to stay open after major snowfall over several days. Some will have gratitude but many will opt for the free delivery elsewhere.

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