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37% of C+D readers considering charging for medicine deliveries

Exclusive
Just 8% said they are thinking about introducing delivery charges as a direct result of COVID-19

More than a third of C+D readers are considering charging patients for medicine deliveries, a C+D poll has found.

Over a third (37%) of the 136 respondents to the C+D poll – which ran between October 26 and November 11 – said they did not currently charge patients for medicine deliveries but were considering starting to do so. A small proportion of these respondents (8%) said they were considering introducing charges for medicine deliveries “in light of COVID-19”.

A similar percentage (38%) said they “already charge some or all of our patients”, while 26% said they “would never consider” charging patients for this.

The latest findings show a slight increase compared to a similar C+D poll last year. That poll ran in August 2019, with 25% of respondents saying they would never consider charging patients for medicine deliveries.

Result

Does your pharmacy charge patients for medicines deliveries?
Yes, we already charge some or all of our patients
38%
No, but we are considering it
29%
No, but we are considering it in light of COVID-19
8%
No, we would never consider this
26%
Total votes: 136

C+D launched its 2020 poll before it was announced that the pandemic delivery service would be recommissioned in England from November 5 to December 3 – providing free deliveries for “clinically extremely vulnerable” patients who are shielding at home and cannot access their medicines.

Reluctant but forced to charge

Hussain Mohajer, superintendent pharmacist at Cornwell’s Chemists in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire told C+D last week (November 13) that his pharmacy does not currently charge for medicine deliveries and, in “an ideal world”, would not need to.

However, current funding constraints make it “potentially unviable” for Cornwell’s Chemist to maintain free services such as its delivery service. “Hence why we may have little alternative but to charge for deliveries in the near future, which we are reluctant to do as a company”, said Mr Mohajer, adding that demand for deliveries “skyrocketed” during the first wave of the pandemic.

“In order to maintain and actually improve our service offering, which pharmacies are eager to do, substantial additional funding is required before it is too late and more pharmacies have to close unnecessarily, negatively impacting local communities,” he added.

Sabina, a community pharmacist based in north London, told C+D earlier this week (November 16) that charging patients for deliveries “would be an absolute last resort and something we would do really reluctantly”.

Her pharmacy has registered an increase in requests for deliveries in the past six months, as patients who were not necessarily shielding started requesting free deliveries as well.

“It got to a point where we got so many delivery requests that our driver… we had to increase their hours for every single day. Five extra hours in a week, it becomes a greater cost,” she said.

The pharmacy tries to “discourage patients who don’t have a genuine need” from asking for medicine deliveries. However, should they decide to introduce delivery charges, this would probably come into effect from next year, Sabina added.

“Some patients might be in financial difficulties and I don’t want to add that on,” she said.  

Lloydspharmacy and Boots introduced a subscription-based service for home deliveries in 2017 and 2018 respectively, while Rowlands told C+D last year it is “prioritising deliveries to more vulnerable patients”.

Both Lloydspharmacy and Boots offer a free delivery service for NHS repeat prescriptions to eligible patients.

7 Comments
Question: 
Will you start charging your patients for medicine deliveries?

Gillian Brown, Accuracy checking technician

I am sure that Amazon would proovide an Emergency supply of medication, to a little old lady, late on a Friday afternoon when her Surgery is closed and she has no medication left!

D Change, Community pharmacist

Exactly. Long gone will be the days of small independents who actually have their publics health at heart. But hey. That's life. We have to move on and adapt or suffer the consequences. For me as a 6 year qualified pharmacist/superintendent/independent prescriber...I've decided to leave the profression entirely to focus on a different region of medical care (not medicine or becoming a doctor); that will remain safe potentially for the next 20 years. I hope. Good luck to you Gill and thank you for your post which I agree with wholeheartedly.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

This is known as closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Oh and by the way Amazon are about to join the party. Just saying...

D Change, Community pharmacist

Ha! Charge? Pharmacists? Good luck. This profession is honestly a laughing stock. The bottom rung of the system. No solid network, no solid support system that actually can speak up and have anything come to fruition. After a few years in the field, I've jumped from the sinking ship that this is. Good luck to those who are left. I am sure Amazon will give you a job for £13/hour once they come along and shut the majority of pharmacies down. Moronic profession. Waste of time. Shouldn't have gotten involved.

C A, Community pharmacist

Do we need to worry about Amazon?

Pharmacy2U have just reported over 1 million items in a month 

Echo are at nearly 500,000 items per month

Well.co.uk are over 100,000 items

Boots online are doing 50,000 items (are Boots just putting items through individual branches - this seems a really low number in comparison to the other multiples?)

D Change, Community pharmacist

My good sir/madam

Amazon will do exactly what they've done in USA. Buy the biggest online pharmacy going and rebrand and inject X amount of money into the portfolio.
The return for them is secondary once the purchase of pharmacy2u has been made.

These online pharmacies are to be wary of, but the turning point will be when Amazon reach the shores. Then it's game over for many many many independents. The cushy life of the large groups will undoubtedly also be at risk as they desperately attempt to mimic Amazon's business plan .

Just a main concern for all of you Community Pharmacists and Pre regs and Pre professionals ...get out now please. Give yourselves some dignity. Don't work for cheap labour.

D Change, Community pharmacist

Anybody who dislikes the comment I have made; I applaude and respect your choice. Please do comment and make clear your view points as I do respect opinions of others. Thank you.

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