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Independent contractor: Cuts may close pharmacy in 6 months

Chauhan pharmacy in City of London. Credit: © 2017 Google, image capture: October 2016

A contractor in London has given his independent pharmacy six months to survive the 12% funding drop in England.

Rohit Kotecha, owner and manager of Chauhan pharmacy in Clerkenwell, London, said that as his business dispenses "about" 2,500-2,700 prescriptions per month, it “will close” in half a year unless his fortunes change.

The loss of the £25,000 establishment payment in England in December will “eventually…hit us very badly”, Mr Kotecha told C+D earlier this month (January 17).

"In six months, I have to make a decision as to whether there is enough income to continue," he added.

The pharmacy was one of two independents the chair of Mr Kotecha’s local pharmaceutical committee (LPC) had calculated might close because they dispense under the 3,000-item-per-month "threshold for the pharmacies to exist”.

“[These are] very scary times. The staff are worried. It's a very stressful period for us and at the end of the day the people who suffer will be the patients,” Mr Kotecha said.

Increased pressure on A&E

While the cuts have "only just started", Mr Kotecha said they are already having an effect on his day-to-day business.

Chauhan Pharmacy's free prescription delivery service is "under review" and will probably end soon, said Mr Kotecha. He predicted this would mean patients would “not take [their] medicine at the right time, their conditions will deteriorate [and] they will eventually have to go to A&E”.

Mr Kotecha is considering reducing staff hours, but stressed: "We can't cut the staff; we can't cut the wages."

Elderly patients in the area will also “be more lonely" if his pharmacy closed, he said.

“It’s a community. There are people who come into the pharmacy and you see them every day or every week just to say: ‘Hello, how are you’. [We] cheer them up, you can't put a price on that. The older ones want to talk to somebody," Mr Kotecha said.

Staff "on the brink"

The pharmacy currently offers a smoking cessation clinic and emergency hormonal contraception. But Mr Kotecha claimed Chauhan cannot innovate further without income from more NHS-commissioned services, as his staff of three are already “on the brink” of their capacity.

"What else can we do? So much work goes on behind the scenes of a pharmacy."

Chauhan is part of the eight-strong Niemans Chemists chain, of which Mr Kotecha is director. Subsidies provided by the chain are “one of the reasons we managed to survive so long”, he added.

How are the cuts affecting your pharmacy? And what are you doing to survive? Share your stories by emailing us at this address.

Are you concerned your pharmacy will close due to the cuts?

Sue Per, Locum pharmacist

Flog it, while it is a sellers market

ajaz akhtar, Student

Its called business..!!

Richard MacLeavy, Dispenser Manager/ Dispensing Assistant

The issue of clusters is quite contenous. Are pharmacy clusters a problem? Is it resulting in low volume and therefore unproductive pharmacies. Or is there a need for clusters due to an urbanised enviroment. I think all we can say is that we don't know, and more worringly nor does the government who is implementing the measures to reduce clusters. We can guess, assume, and debate on the value or not of clusters until the government actually carries out its long talked about and very overdue impact assesment and if by then value is demonstrated it may be too late for many pharmacies forced into closure by an untested theory. Of course theres also the argument about should we be measuring success on script volume alone. On the one hand government is talking about ensuring quality in pharmacy and on the other judging solely on the number of items being dispensed. 

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Checking on NHS choices there are 33 pharmacies within 1 mile of this location (over 15 within 0.5 mile) - this is exactly the sort of thing the government are targetting - low volume pharmacies who cluster round each other to no real benefit and huge cost to the taxpayer. Unfortunately, the blunt instrument being used to try and thin them out is impacting on all of us. I sympathise with those affected but this does look to be something we have brought on ourselves.

John Smith, Locum pharmacist

How many people live and work within a square mile of this pharmacy?Fifteen pharmacies within a square mile is a silly statistic to state on its own.



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