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Almost one third of C+D readers now charging for deliveries

Exclusive
A quarter of respondents said they would "never" consider charging for deliveries

Almost one in three pharmacies now charge patients to deliver medicines to their homes, a C+D poll has suggested.

Fifty two (30%) of the 176 respondents to the poll – which ran on the C+D website from August 8-20 – said their pharmacy already charges “some or all” of their patients, while 45% of respondents said they are “considering” it.

Forty four (25%) respondents said they would “never consider” charging for deliveries.

The latest findings show a slight increase on the 23% of respondents to a similar C+D poll last year who said they were charging patients.

Result

Does your pharmacy charge patients for medicines deliveries?
Yes, we already charge some or all of our patients
30%
No, but we are considering it
45%
No, we would never consider this
25%
Total votes: 176

C+D ran the poll after Boots became the latest multiple to start charging patients for deliveries, citing the need to adapt to “challenges” across the sector.

“Customers happy to collect”

Kieran Eason, director of Easons Pharmacy in Tamworth, said customers have been happy to come into the pharmacy and collect their medicines since they started charging non-housebound patients for deliveries.

“People are only demanding free deliveries because pharmacy is providing them for free. Even the internet pharmacies will have to charge eventually if they ever want to make money,” he stressed.

In contrast, Daniel Ferrie, manager of JP Fentons and Sons in the town of East Kilbride, South Lanarkshire, told C+D his pharmacy’s free medicines delivery service is “an integral service offering to our patients” and “we’re keen to keep it”.

“It has become more challenging for pharmacies, and for every service you offer you have to look at the financial obligations.

“However, this is something we have done for years and we feel is important for our patients, probably more so because of where we are situated, in that not everyone has access to a car, or can come up to the pharmacy,” he explained.

Mr Ferrie believes that the interaction that his patients get with the pharmacy’s two well-trained delivery drivers is also helping to improve medicines compliance.

“Our drivers are important members of the pharmacy team and will spend a bit of time talking to patients. Sometimes for those patients it is the only person they see all day. The drivers will phone me if needs be and so there is still that contact with myself, but they get that interaction with the drivers.”

“If we don't offer that free delivery service, then people are not always going to come to the pharmacy,” he claimed.

Multiples lead the charge

Lloydspharmacy told C+D that introducing a subscription-based delivery service for customers in England in 2017 has not significantly affected the number of deliveries it is making, while Rowlands has seen an increase in footfall to its branches after scrapping its free delivery service for all but “the most vulnerable” housebound patients in 2018.

Read how Well and Boots have amended their own delivery services. 

Charging for deliveries: the Twitter debate
4 Comments
Question: 
Has your opinion on charging for deliveries changed over the past year?

C A, Community pharmacist

""Even the internet pharmacies will have to charge eventually if they ever want to make money,” he stressed."
Except they can't, as the DSP contract prevents them from charging.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Only 176 respondents- I don’t think that’s a true picture! 

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Given that the proportion has increased from 1/4 to 1/3 I think this shows that FINALLY we have started to wake up. Having said that, is does mean that 2/3 are prepared to spend what little hard-earned cash they manage to wring out of the government on delivering meds to, in many cases, lazy people with an inflated sense of entitlement! 

SP Ph, Community pharmacist

There are still small rural pharmacies who run because of delivering to these out of village patients. For these pharmacies if they don't deliver they will have to close shops, with the ongoing cuts. They can't provide these fantasy services proposed in the new contract. Dispensing is still bread and butter for them and any changes to the current arrangement would lead to closures and high level deprivation.

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