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.
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
Has anyone tried asking Tesco’s for a free delivery recently?— Sally Harris (@SallyLHarris) August 19, 2019
We aren’t charities and the NHS doesn’t fund delivery (or community pharmacy properly) so why are we offering it at a loss?
How is the pharmacy staff able to decide who pays? Ie who is house bound and who is not. Then there are those who will tell you they are house bound and they are not. It opens up a massive can of worms.— James (@JamesHesp) August 20, 2019
It was all fine when pharmacy could afford to carry out free stuff. Now we cannot, this is what happens when a sector is taken for granted and has cuts imposed on it.— SP (@SP73052344) August 20, 2019
All discretionary services will have to go, gov. hopes that everyone fears that people will go to everyone else.
It would be an extra administrative burden for us. No easy way of keeping track of who has paid what and when.— Amanda Smith (@HfxAmanda) August 19, 2019