The Co-operative Group re-entered the pharmacy market last month with an app that allows patients to order prescriptions direct from their GP and collect from any pharmacy in England. It is also trialling digital health checks in six of its food stores in Manchester, and a click-and-collect service, allowing patients to order their prescriptions to lockers located in five Co-op food stores in north-west England.
“We hear from our customers that click and collect is something [they’re] interested in, and there certainly seems to be an appetite in that area,” superintendent pharmacist Rachael Clarke told C+D at the time.
How do the lockers work?
The Co-op told C+D when customers place an order via its app, they can opt to have their medicines delivered to any address in the UK or choose to use one of the group’s click-and-collect lockers.
Medicines are dispensed from the Co-op's centralised distribution hub in Lea Green, Merseyside and customers are given a unique reference, which they need to access the relevant secure locker.
“We'll advise customers upfront when choosing how they would like their medication to be dispensed and how long items will be kept in the locker, so that they can ensure they can collect their medication within the permitted timeframes,” the group explained.
“We'll be closely monitoring how long items remain in lockers before being collected.”
Certain medicines, such as controlled drugs and fridge lines, are not available for locker collection, the Co-op added.
The group has not explicitly said how many more food stores it plans to install prescription lockers in, but it will use learnings from the pilot sites “to shape what our service looks like as we roll it out further”.
The Co-op worked “very closely” with the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) and the National Pharmacy Association “to ensure that we’re adhering [to] all the relevant regulatory and legal requirements”, it explained.
The GPhC told C+D that its “standards for registered pharmacies require the pharmacy owner to have clear governance arrangements in place and to identify and manage the risks associated with providing a new pharmacy service, such as lockers”.
“Pharmacy services, including lockers, must be managed and delivered safely and effectively, and medicines must be delivered to the patient safely, stored securely and safeguarded from unauthorised access,” the regulator added.