Pharmacists will still be expected to assemble at least 40% of the medicines they dispense, even if they embrace the hub-and-spoke model, the government has reaffirmed.
Despite its plans to allow independent pharmacies to legally operate dispensing hubs, between 40-70% of medicines dispensed by these 'spoke' pharmacies would still have to assembled on site, the Department of Health (DH) estimated in a consultation document published last month.
If 60% of medicines were dispensed through this dispensing model, it could cut pharmacist labour costs by 10% – and pharmacy technician costs by 25% – in 'spoke' pharmacies, the government said.
Removing the legal barriers for operating a hub will “create a level playing field” and “give independent pharmacies across the UK a wider choice as to which business model they adopt.”
The latest government document echoes chief pharmaceutical officer for England Keith Ridge's claim last year that the model could dispense two thirds of the country's prescriptions.
The government's hub-and-spoke predictions in numbers*
- 10% reduction in pharmacist labour costs at spoke pharmacies
- 25% reduction in pharmacy technician labour costs at spoke pharmacies
- 2.5-5% increase in pharmacist labour costs at hub pharmacies
- 6.2-12.5% increase in pharmacy technician labour costs at hub pharmacies
- Only 30-60% of the medicines dispensed by 'spoke' pharmacies will be prepared at a hub
- A new hub, capable of serving an average of 250 spoke pharmacies, would cost £5 million to build
- A "large" hub could serve an average of 1,500 pharmacies and would cost £20 million to build
- 25-50% of independent and small multiple pharmacies will use a hub-and-spoke model (large multiples were not taken into account as they can already legally operate this model)
- It will take up to three years for this level of uptake to be reached.
*All predictions based on the government estimate that 60% of medicines will be dispensed through the hub-and-spoke model. This is the government's "high estimate" and its "central estimate" is that 45% will be dispensed in this manner.