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GPhC to carry out 'special inspection' of Pharmacy2U

Pharmacy2U is "struggling to send medicines out as quickly as required" after a recent premises move

The regulator and NHS England will visit the online pharmacy after it revealed delays to prescription deliveries until January 11


The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) will conduct a "special inspection" of Pharmacy2U after the online pharmacy announced it may not deliver any medicines to patients between now and January 11, C+D has learned.

The regulator announced today (December 22) that it will carry out a joint inspection with NHS England following Pharmacy2U's announcement that it was experiencing "unforeseen difficulties" due to moving to a new "automated facility". Pharmacy2U said it was "struggling to send medicines out as quickly as required" on its website yesterday (December 21). 

In its initial apology (see picture below), the online pharmacy said that it will not deliver "any prescriptions requested from December 21 until the week commencing January 11". But today it changed the statement, simply saying that newly-ordered repeat medications "may not be delivered" until that date.

NHS England today called on Pharmacy2U to "raise its game". "Frankly, this performance isn't good enough," an NHS England spokesperson told C+D. 

Pharmacy2U's announcement came after patients took to Twitter to lambast the "disgraceful" delays to deliveries of their medicines. 

Patients should contact their local pharmacy if they are concerned about delivery of their medicines, the GPhC said.

Read Pharmacy2U's latest statement in full below.

"Important notice: We apologise that there are currently delays on prescription orders, due to unforeseen difficulties in transferring to our new automated dispensing centre. 

"If you are placing a new order for NHS repeat prescriptions, we would like to advise you that your medication may not be delivered until week commencing 11 January 2016. 

"It is very important to be sure that you do not run out of medication, so regretfully, if you cannot wait until then it is safest for you to make arrangements with your doctor or local pharmacist to have your next prescription dispensed locally. We are extremely sorry if this causes you any inconvenience at this busy time of year.

"Our experienced dispensary team are working 24 hours a day and over the festive period to continue the service and dispatch medication as quickly as possible.

"We are contacting all patients who have already placed their order to let them know about the issue and help patients obtain medication elsewhere where necessary."

- Pharmacy2U notice on its website, December 22


The online pharmacy hit the headlines recently when the government privacy watchdog slapped it with a £130,000 fine for selling patient data to marketing companies.

More Pharmacy2U news...

Pharmacy2U sees EPS boost after data-selling scandal

Lawyer: GPhC could take action against Pharmacy2U employees

Alistair Burt: Pharmacy2U scandal an 'aberration'

What do you think of the Pharmacy2U inspection?

We want to hear your views, but please express them in the spirit of a constructive, professional debate. For more information about what this means, please click here to see our community principles and information


Cod Fillet, Community pharmacist

What a disgrace! We rang the on behalf it a patient to chase up a Rx on the 31st at lunchtime and the phone line was down with an automated massage that pharmacy2u would re-open on the 4th of January!!

Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist


Nalin Shah, Community pharmacist


Sajid khan, Community pharmacist

The issue the GPhC and the NHS will have is that EMIS have shareholding as do some investment banks. Are the two bold enough to oppose such might. If this is not dealt with in the correct manner then we will have the scenario of one rule for them and another for the rest. This is a big litmus test for the GPhC particularly. Lets watch this space...

Graham Morris, Design

Let me think what will happen. First members of the GPhC will look very concerned whilst sucking air through clenched teeth. Then they will eventually have a meeting where business speak is an essential component of being important! First of all, this situation is not a problem, it is a "challenge". (Everyone nods seriously in agreement.) Secondly, they need to “Take on board!” the absolute pigs ear caused by Pharmacy2U's disruption which they feel is regrettable, but they cannot possibly suspend a business which is a shining light for the hub and spoke model, which the government will implement. (Everyone nods in agreement.) But, they’ll have to do something to show how concerned they really should be. They can’t believe that a challenge like this was not on someone radar! (Everyone frowns and shows mock concern.) They'll have to impose a fine on the business, to show willing and placate those contractors who would never have allowed a business model to be so exposed to catastrophic failure and causing such hardship to vulnerable individuals. (Everyone seriously nods in agreement.) The more business-focused members of the meeting won’t say anything until the last third of the meeting. This re-inforces their status as deep thinkers. Then everyone agrees, minutes carefully crafted and expenses diligently recorded, buffet open and early home. The now famous and grossly overused "lessons must be learnt" will be trotted out in any reports to the press. (Everyone nods sagely in agreement.) Then, sadly, SFA will be the outcome. (Everyone steering EPS stands on chairs waving flags. Spine software enhancement quickly placed on development list to allow already delivered but not dispensed scripts to be re-routed from a hub to a backup hub site in the future. Contingency plan in place for next time! The quest for hub and spoke continues. One more step along the road we go!) Simples !!!

Clive Hodgson, Community pharmacist

Must agree with you Graham. The GPhC are most unlikely to take any serious action against P2U for this event or the selling of patient data. Contrast this situation with the action taken against a Pharmacist who nicked a 69p bag of crisps from his employer (determination 27th Nov 2015).

Locum Pharmacist, Locum pharmacist

Some Inspectors look into the rubbish bins to check any confidential waste to make sure that we segregate waste.Now what about Pharmacy2u

Diana Taylor, Primary care pharmacist

Pleased to see its hit the Daily Mail today, and hope they get lots of responses from pharmacists who have helped P2U patients out.

janet maynard, Community pharmacist

I thought we had received more prescriptions from Pharmacy2u patients! We are open until 6pm on Christmas and New years eve!!!!!

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Interesting - so community pharmacies are expected to clean-up the mess created by an online provider for free, after being told that that their funding is being cut by 6%. In addition, at this busy time (2 days before xmas!) imagine telling patients you can't get hold of their prescriptions, so frantic phone calls/emergency supplies etc. Anything to keep patients happy. Where's the goodwill from NHS England or these patients?? The mind boggles at the perception created of community pharmacies - definitely a good time to start saying NO!

John Urwin, Community pharmacist

Yep. Just say no. Make things as miserable as possible for someone who has used p2u. That will make them think twice about going back to p2u and ensure they become your loyal customer in the future.

London Locum, Locum pharmacist

They're mostly spineless doormats so will find it very difficult to say NO.

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Further evidence that online pharmacies/hubs will not work for the British public. However some blame must be with the patient for choosing to obtain their meds in this way rather than hop down to the local pharmacy...

Ben Merriman, Community pharmacist

I am aware that P2U have been very legally minded about this so shall choose my words carefully... We have seen many patients who have inadvertently signed up to P2U for dispensing their Rx. When a nomination form arrived in the post, some patients believed it was from their regular pharmacy and it was signed and returned. It was only when the patient rang us to query a missing item did the change of dispenser become apparent.

Stephen Walsh, Community pharmacist

Dear Colleagues Important note regarding services provided by ‘Pharmacy2U’ over Christmas and New Year NHS England has been informed that Pharmacy2U (P2U) – (an internet based pharmacy) is experiencing difficulty in dispensing medicines to some of its patients. NHS England has met with P2U as this disruption in supply is unacceptable, particularly as we approach the Christmas bank holiday period. This letter is to keep all informed about arrangements being made to mitigate risk and inconvenience to patients. The technical issues at P2U have resulted in some patients being unlikely to receive their ordered medicines until January 11th. P2U has being contacting as many of its patients as possible, to ensure their needs are identified, and to refer them to other pharmacies if required. Patients with an outstanding order (electronic or hard copy prescription) are being contacted by email and telephone. Those who are unable to wait until January 11th for their prescription, or who cannot be contacted, will have their prescription released back to the NHS spine or returned by post. This will allow patients to pick up their medicines from any alternative pharmacy using either the Electronic Prescription service (EPS) or their hard copy FP10 This should make it unnecessary for patients to obtain a repeat prescription from their GP. Pharmacy staff and GPs if contacted by patients can use the EPS tracker to support patients by helping to track their electronic prescriptions. This will provide information regarding the status of the prescription and the options available to them. 111 call handlers if contacted should advise patients to contact P2U or any pharmacy in order to access the tracker. If the prescription has not been released electronically, or the prescription (FP10) has not been returned, patients should in the first instance try and contact P2U in order to have that prescription released. Failing this, the patient could request an emergency supply By email For the attention of: GP Practices 111 Service Providers NHS England local teams - Heads of Primary Care and Pharmacy contract managers Primary Care Commissioning NHS England 4W56 Quarry House Quarry Hill Leeds LS2 7UE 23 December 2015 High quality care for all, now and for future generations from any pharmacy, or they can consult their GP with regard to the possibility of securing a replacement prescription Further information on the tracker is available on following link: P2U are going to send back to the spine by close of play 23/12/2015 all electronic prescriptions from patients who they have not been able to contact. NHS England will be working with the pharmacy to rectify the situation and ensure patients can be confident they can expect a reliable service.

Stephen Kane, Community pharmacist

My Pharmacy was told 2 1/2 weeks ago that we were on Rota for Christmas Day. Subsequent enquiries revealed that NHSEngland had sent the required 90 day notice to the wrong e-mail address, even though we had communicated over the summer about Christmas opening and they had then used the correct address. I was told if I didn't open we would face disciplinary action. NHSEngland were incompetent, Pharmacy2U can close for nearly three weeks, and I have to work Christmas Day. Where's the justice ?

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I'm curious to what kind of strange incompetence that P2U has committed that means that they are completely unable to do any work? I can't imagine any scenario that would have resulted in their actions.

PARESH shah, Community pharmacist

If any patient comes to my pharmacy from p2u for an emergency supply, it will be treated as a private sale and nothing else. That is the only way to get that person to come back to your pharmacy permanently.Do NOT do it for free. VALUE yourselves.

bilal hussain, Community pharmacist

I will be doing the same as well. I won't cover p2u's back for free for an error they have made at the busiest time of year, through business dealings which I see as unethical. Let patients realise this online chemist isn't the same as their local brick and mortar.

Honest Tikes, Sales

Absolutely! Who are the idiots voting this down?The suckers serving care homes for meagre returns?The fools filling MDS on 28 day scripts for no extra payment?The gullible becoming Healthy Living Pharmacies in the hope of jam tomorrow? WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE---They just knocked 6% of your income as a reward for all your efforts

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

time for them to rebrand as pharmacy2me2u... as they appear to be run by the chuckle brothers

David Mcmullen, Community pharmacist

BALKEET and LEROY,e mail him at [email protected] though he has gone on leave until the 4 jan.Perhaps he is doing a few locum sessions on fantasy island.!

John Randell, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

this is unfortnately not just another product that can be bought and sold..this is peoples medicines we are talking about....this is an unusual product that requires extra focus and funding the govermennt,not cutts

Roy Sinclair, Community pharmacist

Just exactly where is the progress in providing a Community Pharmacy Service.. Forty years ago we could dispense 300 items a day with possibly just a dispensing assistant. There was no EPS, no computer, no typewriters, only gummed labels that needed to be handwritten, no pre-packaged medicines and just an electronic tablet counter or a triangle (What's that !) we were able to dispense a prescription within 10-15 minutes or lose it to a rival. We could recognise any tablet or capsule at 15 paces and most liquid medicines by colour and smell. We could compound an ointment, cream or mixture from scratch within half an hour and knew the ingredients of most if not all patent medicines simply by hearing their brand name. We did this wearing clean white coats and were respected members of the community to whom we provided an essential service. There were I believe about 25 times as many Pharmacies as there are now. We had time to talk to and advise our customers on health matters who we knew both individually and as families. And most if not all of us loved it. I ask again, where is the progress in providing a pharmacy service ?

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Amazon style supply is what the elites want for our culture, nothing will be allowed to get in the way of its transmission into our lives, any screws-ups will be written off as teething problems.

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

So the clearing up of this mess will fall to the local community pharmacy despite the fact that patients affected has voted with their feet and CHOSEN to use an Internet pharmacy. Makes my blood boil to think that, probably in the majority of cases, the patient will have their supply sorted out at a local level and, afterwards, freedom of choice means they will ignore the local service and go back to this bunch of wasters, until the next time. One question - does "not able to deliver" from an internet pharmacy have the equivalent meaning of "unable to provide patient access" for a regular pharmacy? If it does, then surely that must result in a breach of NHS contract and appropriate sanctions, all the way up to forfeiture of said contract. Keith Ridge has said there are too many pharmacies - maybe he should start by getting rid of this one!

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Well said Stephen!

Ali Al-Saydilani, Superintendent Pharmacist

It's about time that the GP surgeries across the country who have entered into some sort of partnership with P2U review their arrangements. This latest news is so farcical you would think the website had been hacked at first glance. I always tell our customers who ask us about the marketing letters they receive from P2U that we also provide a free delivery service. The difference is if you need your medicines urgently or there is any query you can just pop in to us, but you can't easily get to a warehouse in Leeds if your prescription doesn't arrive in the post. The only difference between P2U and your average internet pharmacy, that allows P2U to be the biggest dispenser in the UK, is that P2U advertise to the whole country through the letters they seem to send to every repeat prescription patient , allowing them to pick up an average of 5 items from each surgery, many of whom believe they are entering into an arrangement with their own local pharmacy or surgery!

Chandra Nathwani, Community pharmacist

No-one has yet mentioned the extra cost and burden to the already overstretched GP's and NHS 111 and local pharmacy to pick up the shortfall in this "un-acceptable" method of medicine supply. How many "New" scripts will have to be issued? How many calls will NHS 111 have to deal with and send out new scripts/doctors for a failure of P2U. This model was never going to be the basis of a long term future for our profession and I hope "lessons will be learnt". I was wondering why I was seeing old regulars back after an absence! Where have we failed to allow entry to P2U and the like? Is there any research out there to show evidence that it is cheaper than your local community pharmacy in terms of hard cash and social capital? Was it not recently when in a similar situation where nursing home supplies could not be made because a pharmacy went into receivership? Did we as the Pharmacy profession learn anything from that? Medicine supply is Pharmacist raison d'etre and we must resist all attempts to "Amazonise" this service.

Harry Tolly, Pharmacist

Keith Ridge and his plummy voiced master at Manchester Uni are living in the past. They are true luddites that cannot understand the new landscape of healthcare. Sorry to be cryptic but many in positions of power will understand exactly what I mean.


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