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Day Lewis boss: There are 'too many pharmacies', some 'not delivering'

Mr Patel said the sector should unite to face "the real disruptors”: distance-selling pharmacies
Mr Patel said the sector should unite to face "the real disruptors”: distance-selling pharmacies

There are “too many pharmacies” in England, with those that are not delivering enough services risking how the sector is perceived, a Day Lewis executive director has warned.

"The challenge we have at the moment is that, let’s be clear, there are too many pharmacies,” Jay Patel said during a session on the five-year funding deal for community pharmacy in England at last week’s National Pharmacy Association (NPA) conference.

“I don’t like to say it but there are [too many pharmacies] and I believe there are pharmacies out there that are not delivering services in the first place,” he commented during a presentation at the NPA session on Thursday evening (July 16).

There needs to be “some rationalisation of the numbers” of community pharmacies, Mr Patel added. According to NHS Digital data published in November last year, there were 11,539 community pharmacies in England in 2018/19.

“You can’t protect everybody”, Mr Patel said, adding that “good contractors who are delivering services can’t be held back by this perception that we don’t deliver”.

Referring to the £2.592 billion a year funding confirmed for community pharmacy until 2023/24, he suggested the sector needs to “look at how the funding is distributed and maybe look at [having] less pharmacies” in order to make the most of what is available. It would be a case of “rebalancing the estate”, he added.

“Get united as a community of pharmacies”

Urging unity within the sector, Mr Patel said the conflict of “independents versus multiples” is “taking [us] back 10 years”.

“I think what is happening at the moment is that all contractors are up against it and unfortunately, when things wo wrong, we have a habit of wanting to pass the blame and point the finger at somebody else,” he said.

What the sector needs instead is to “get united as a community of pharmacies” to “build a relationship with the government” and face “the real disruptors”, which he named as distance-selling pharmacies. 

There is “more in common between these two types of contractors [multiples and independents] than there is that divides us”, he said, adding that “Amazon and Pharmacy2U, etc, are the real threat”.  

“If you want to draw battle lines, draw them along the lines of bricks and mortar local [pharmacies] versus distance-selling internet pharmacy,” he said.

Mr Patel described Day Lewis, which operates more than 300 pharmacies across the UK, as “an independent”, as opposed to the large multiples such as Boots and Lloydspharmacy.

Do you think there are too many pharmacies in England?

C A, Community pharmacist

Its very humble of Day Lewis to admit so many of their stores aren't performing

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I agree with you there, last time I went into one, it was like going back in time, everything was in septa like the photos, I was greeted by a man with a large bushy moustache and top hat, who charged me a two shillings and a halfpenny for a dozen acetaminophen which he pulled out from a brown dusty jar on the shelf.

Ebers Papyrus, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Suprised he's shown his hand so readily, some of the multiples won't be too happy with his comments. It just exposes the different agendas and different business models. The current contract isn't fit for purpose and will inevitably change, watch this space.

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

It sounds like he wants to set up a cartel. Surly this can't be legal......

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

The constant reinvention of health policy by successive administrations has not helped the community pharmacy sector. However, it is rather like blaming the last carriage de-railing in a train crash. You think you can remove the cause, but closing pharmacies will give cause for more reductions under the guise of new money for more so-called services.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Looking at the headlines today, they may well need to reduce the number of pharmacies claiming services to pay for the nice little pay rise the GPs have got for their sterling non-work during the coronavirus crisis

R A, Community pharmacist

Don't worry about the pay of GP. It seems like the government is flooding the market with the trusty pharmacist prepared to do the same job for 40% of what a locum GP earns.

GP's are in for a nasty shock!

Leon The Apothecary, Student

PPs definitely set to take on that role; roughly two-four PPs for the price of one GP I saw?

Brian Plainer, Locum pharmacist

40% ? It's as high as that ? Wow - aren't we spoiled ?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

GPs are made of teflon. All it will mean is they do less work for more pay.

R A, Community pharmacist

I think if you look at their salary already it no longer is in line with what their predecessors used to earn. In 2003 it was £100k which should now be £159k adjusted for inflation.

The government has not adjusted the salary. Quite the contrary J Hunt tried to impose a contract which provoked a mass strike. My brother is actually a hospital consultant and has told me that in his field AI is catching up fast and in a decade or so could replace consultants and registrars in his field.

How does this affect the GP? Technology is evolving at a rapid pace. For example, if  Structured Light 3D Scanning and ultrasound can be incorporated in a smartphone much of the physical examination a doctor does can be automated to a computer.

Therefore the healthcare system will just need specialists and a lot of the GP will be out of a job. What I would like to stress is that this probably applies to locum GP. People fail to understand that a salaried GP and GP Partner does work pretty hard in their job. Many go above and beyond, but the only difference between a community pharmacist and GP is that community pharmacist gets paid peanut.

In the near future, the good times for GP will come to an end. Just being a GP won't be enough they will need to prove value. Unfortunately many fail on that. You only have to look at Instagram accounts of GP to get this vibe.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

I'm afraid I'm not going to feel sorry for them. Not when my wages have gone DOWN by £100 a day in the same time period.

John Ashworth, Community pharmacist

I have a choice of ten all within a radius of a couple of miles . Couple of independents who are working very hard offering extra PGD and privately funded services . Can't see a thing wrong with what he's saying . 

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Are you for real?? Talk about support lacking for your fellows!

It all depends on where you live - if you live out in the sticks then yes, 10 is too many but if you live in an inner city, there could be 100000 people living in that 2 mile radius (or more if it's in London - I've looked up the population density figures in case you were wondering) in which case ten is too few -on average each pharmacy in England serves roughly 5-6 thousand patients

Hannah Darling, Community pharmacist

Sounds about right for Day Lewis. In my experience they put on all the same pressures as Boots and more. They are a multiple pretending to be independent.

Stephen McGonigle, Information Technology

Sort Shelley Manor in Bournemouth before you pontificate any further!

Eddy Lau, Superintendent Pharmacist

Agree lets close some of  Day Lewis to start with.

Mr Anon, Community pharmacist

Isn't that a bit rich coming from the 300+ Pharmacy chain?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Does this mean Day Lewis will be closing some of it's branches? Or do they just want fewer competitors!

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

It's that phrase 'I believe there are pharmacies out there that are not delivering services in the first place' that would have me really worried if I were a Day Lewis employee. Sounds like they are planning to REALLY put the pressure on their pharmacists to do services. I would imagine that this is part of the plan - put people in fear of their jobs, pile on the pressure to make more money = got you by the balls (or whatever the equivalent for a female pharmacist)

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Glad I don't work for Day Lewis. I'd be a little worried for my job right now if I did.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

Selling off their places recently, haven't they?

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