Day Lewis plans to roll out a hub-and-spoke dispensing model to all its pharmacies by 2018, C+D has learned.
The chain launched a pilot to dispense medicines from a central hub to a "proportion” of its branches in July 2014, and is awaiting “enhancements in PMR technology” before it can roll out the model across its entire network “by 2017-18”, chief information officer Jay Patel told C+D in an exclusive interview last week (November 26).
Between 35 and 40 Day Lewis pharmacies – 15% of the total network – currently use this model, and Mr Patel said the business is “looking at expanding the central hub through automation”.
Mr Patel agreed with Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) chief executive Sue Sharpe’s comment last month that dispensing hubs will not necessarily be cheaper. “It’s not going to save cost because the goods still need to be physically moved around,” he said.
Time to spend with patients
Instead, the model is intended to free up “pharmacy teams to really spend time with patients”, Mr Patel stressed.
“[Teams] aren’t able to be healthy living champions if they’re dispensing and chasing up orders. But they can promote that [healthy living] role if they have got the dispensing already undertaken for them,” he said.
Day Lewis is concerned that “such a big change in dispensing operations" could cause "unintended consequences” for the morale of its pharmacy teams, Mr Patel said. The business is “investing time...maximising the positive attributes" of the model by explaining how it will "allow teams to spend time with patients”, he added.
England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge suggested in September that hubs could deal with two thirds of the country’s prescriptions, but National Pharmacy Association chair Ian Strachan warned last week that the “general rollout” of this model could bring “serious risks to the pharmacy network”.