Layer 1

COVID-19: Contractors report drop in prescription volumes

A drop in prescriptions could render pharmacies “unviable”, one contractor said
A drop in prescriptions could render pharmacies “unviable”, one contractor said

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a concerning drop in footfall and dispensing volume, contractors and the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp) have warned.

AIMp chief executive Leyla Hannbeck told C+D last month (July 31) that many of the organisation's members have reported a “drop in the level of prescriptions presented in pharmacy over the past months compared to same time in previous years”.

Contractors connect this development to COVID-19, naming factors including reduced footfall as patients are not visiting community pharmacies due to the pandemic, GPs running a reduced number of surgeries, doing fewer home visits and carrying out more remote consultations, as well as an absence of prescriptions from dentists.

“Reduced access to primary care as a result of COVID-19 has added demand pressures to primary care”, Ms Hannbeck said. This may in turn affect the “long-term welfare of patients, as people may delay investigations, avoid referrals and procrastinate contacting their surgeries because of the difficulties in gaining access to face to face [care]”, she warned.

"AIMp is looking into this matter further, carrying out analysis and putting together a model in regard to what this means [for] monthly income versus operating costs in a typical pharmacy and will be sharing this with members accordingly,” she said.

“Supplying medicines and clinically checking prescriptions is an important part of community pharmacy activities,” Ms Hannbeck added.

Dispensing drop could have “devastating effect”

C+D spoke to three pharmacy team members who had all noticed a drop in prescription levels since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A contractor at an independent pharmacy chain who wishes to remain anonymous, said the drop in prescription levels could have a “devastating effect on the community pharmacy network”.

“If we start to see a much more significant drop in volume then some pharmacies are just not going to be viable,” the contractor told C+D yesterday (August 18).

To prevent pharmacies from closing, the government needs to “have a completely new look at pharmacy funding,” they said.

The same contractor told C+D that patients are turning to online pharmacies to avoid the risk of visiting their local pharmacy in person. Pharmacies based at health centres are also missing out on patients, as the GP surgeries they are attached to are doing more remote consultations, which means fewer walks-in for the pharmacies, the contractor added.

A team member at a different pharmacy told C+D earlier this week (August 17) that  there have been “very few walk-ins” since lockdown and suggested the reason could be that “the media has scared people half to death”. Patients “would rather be ill at home than risk catching a virus”, as the “news has drummed into their heads” the dangers of venturing out, they said. With fewer customers, "my days are long", the team member added. 

A pharmacist based in Scotland reported “next to no walk-ins” in their branch. Their pharmacy has been operating at “50% of normal” and there is “no end in sight” due to GPs remaining closed, they told C+D on Monday (August 17). 

13 Comments
Question: 
Have you experienced a drop in prescription volume?

MR Dissillutioned, Pharmacy owner/ Proprietor

We saw an increase in numbers in March. We have maintained these numbers. This is mainly due to the multiples charging for deliveries. 

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

This was from March - seems a lifetime away now doesn't it?

COVID-19: Dispensing volume up 25%, NPA reports

'Community pharmacy saw a 25% increase in dispensing volume between February and March and a 300% increase in home deliveries'

Like I said - it all evens out in the end.

 

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

If Rx numbers dropped by half the global sum would remain the same? If so then contractors and the like will be laughing!

Matthew Edwards, Community pharmacist

Unsure where these people of been.  GP's closed their doors and my footfall has increased.  People have sought advice from our three pharmacies because they can't see a GP.  Counter sales and prescription volume up about 30%.  Only wish is that the revenue doesnt reflect the figures due to increased staffing levels and costs.  On the whole though we are busier than ever!

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Surely your script volumes are going to balance out over the course of the year though - the mad panic ordering at the start of lockdown has given way to a bit of a lull to compensate, but over 12 months, the numbers should equalise. There's no reason why Covid would cause more prescriptions to be written over and above regular volumes - it's not as if there's a drug to treat it or anything like that.

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

I suspect community pharmacies in the heart of their communities that are giving a good personal service are benefiting at the expense of town centre and health centre pharmacies. On-line pharmacies are also benefitting from their superficial appeal. The trick for pharmacies that have benefitted from the changes in patient habit will be to retain their new patients, 

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Not to worry because clinical services is the future...

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Haha, you have live on £48 a month for the "clinical services" a month. 
 

Christie's report increased interest in pharmacy buying

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Should be fine as I'm using the OFQUAL algorithm to calculate everything.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

Lmfaooo. You make me laugh 

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

Don't Benie! I need a wee already!!

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

I'm going to crap my self if he continues

Not-So-Lucky Ex-Locum, Superintendent Pharmacist

“If we start to see a much more significant drop in volume then some pharmacies are just not going to be viable,” the contractor told C+D yesterday (August 18).

To prevent pharmacies from closing, the government needs to “have a completely new look at pharmacy funding,” they said.

This is just not going to happen - the Government WANTS pharmacies to close and this is a nice convenient smokescreen for them to hide behind while pharmacy crashes and burns.

Job of the week

Pre-registration Pharmacists 2021
London (South), London (Greater)
Competitive package