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There'll be no one left to deliver services, pharmacist warns Hancock

Whitworth's Richard Bradley: I doorstepped Matt Hancock (pictured) in the House of Commons (credit: Parliament)
Whitworth's Richard Bradley: I doorstepped Matt Hancock (pictured) in the House of Commons (credit: Parliament)

A pharmacist used a chance meeting with health secretary Matt Hancock to warn him that continued funding pressures will result in “no pharmacists” to deliver services.

Richard Bradley, co-owner of Whitworth Chemists, told C+D he “doorstepped” Mr Hancock on his way to a meeting in the House of Commons last month, to explain the plight of community pharmacy.

“I let him know that while I appreciate his [interest in] the French pharmacy model…my issue is that it is expensive,” Mr Bradley, who was in the building to attend a private event in parliament, said.

Mr Hancock exclusively told C+D last year that he wants to see England move towards the French model for pharmacies “where they do more”.

Mr Bradley said his pharmacies are already “doing everything that [Mr Hancock] is demanding pharmacies start to do”, but the current funding model for the sector “disproportionately penalises pharmacies [that] are investing in the future”.

He blamed the government’s “broad brush cuts” to pharmacy funding for the financial strain that contractors are under.

“Lenders are putting us under a lot of pressure at the moment and asking us to look at staff costs, with banks asking: ‘Do we really need all this second pharmacist cover’,” Mr Bradley claimed.

“I put it to [Mr Hancock] that when the services that we’ve been waiting for finally arrive, you’re going to have no pharmacists to do them.”

Mr Hancock seemed “surprised” by this, Mr Bradley claimed.

The health secretary thanked him and said it was “useful and valuable information” that he would “take back”, Mr Bradley added.

Skillset of pharmacy will be “better utilised”

When contacted by C+D to corroborate Mr Bradley’s account, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Our ambition is to help people live better for longer, and through the NHS long-term plan we have set out the approach to see the reach and skillset of pharmacy teams better utilised and further integrated with other parts of the health and care system.

“Our pharmacies are vital to delivering a world class NHS, and the government is committed to working with community pharmacists to help make this a reality,” it added.

Listen to C+D's latest podcast to find out why Mr Hancock is such a fan of French pharmacies.

Subscribe to all of C+D's podcasts on iTunes by clicking here or by searching 'Chemist+Druggist podcast' on your preferred android podcast app.

How is your pharmacy coping with the funding pressures?

Hardworking manager, Superintendent Pharmacist

Well done Richard ;-) always pleasing to see someone defending the independents and making the cheese balls listen- even ifyou have to tread on their expensive shoes! 


RS Pharmacist, Primary care pharmacist

I think Mr Hancock would love it, if there are no humans left to deliver the services as he would probably hope we are all replaced with robots! He must be a Will Smith fan and iRobot must be his favourite movie!

Ranjeev Patel, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Pharmacists are much better educated and skilled than the government realises. However, as pharmacists do not give as much resistance to funding cuts as doctors do, they are a soft target for the government when looking to save money. The move to online pharmacies with delivery services is coming whether pharmacists like it or not and I am sure that this is the governments medium to long term plan for the industry. There is no longer a need to have dozens of bricks and mortar pharmacies in medium sized towns in the UK and they know this - I would estimate that 98% of pharmacy customers either want to buy an OTC product or collect their script, how many times have you seen a patient walk in and ask for an MUR?

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Ranjeev, how does Matt think pharmacies will offer services and ‘do more like the French’ unless they are bricks are mortar?

R A, Community pharmacist

Hi Ranjeev, 

When a profession is dictated by large companies how do you propose we counteract government funding cuts?

Hancock obsesses about the French Pharmacy Model but fails to admit that in France it is owner operated. Not ruled by regional pharmacy chains and national chains. At the end of the day why would a pharmacist like myself lobby for the sector because any additional income will go straight back into the pocket of the parent company of a USA coporation or a medium size chain owner? After working as a pharmacist for over 8 years I have not seen an ounce of loyalty! Every year they have cut the locum rate but the work load has gone up.

The profession was the strongest when it was independent operated infact look who accosted Mr Hancock the owner of an independent pharmacy chain. Compare to multiples, independent chains treat their staff better but the sector would have been better off if it was owner operated or limited ownership. 

This would have given individual pharmacists the opportunity to participate as a stakeholder, Mike Hewitson is a good example of the engagement of an owner oeprator. However for engagement to exist some form of inducement must exist. Currently in the world of pharmacy it is non-existent. 

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

He was ‘acting’ surprised. He knows only too well what him and his government are doing. He was probably pleased to hear from the horses mouth that we are all finally on the way out. 

R A, Community pharmacist

Mr Hancock is the typical politician you find in the Parliment these days, heavy on the promise but light on the delivery. All Mr Hancock had to do was drag himself to pharmacies in his constituencies and ask any pharmacist worth their salt what the government can do better?

The fact that a pharmacist had to jump on Mr Hancock to get his attention clearly shows that very little will change in the world of pharmacy! French Pharmacy Model while at it can we please encourage the general public to adopt more interest in their health and wellbeing like the French?

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

It is great to hear a pharmacist encountered the politician supposedly knowledgeable (allegedly). However, the political class suffer from financial madness: They think efficiency comes from expecting everyone to continue to do the same (for less) without deteriorating results.

Dodo pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Well done Richard. It is a shame that there are not more like you willing to tell these politicians what it is really like for us on the front line. I doubt it will do any good but thanks anyway for trying.

Kevin Western, Community pharmacist

If this is really  a surprise to Mr Hancock, then you have to ask why do contractors pay so much to PSNC, NPA CAA etc etc etc. what are they doing?

Clarke Kent, Community pharmacist

Seems we pay our representatives to attend mettings on our behalf's at great expense. They do listen attentively (whist casually sitting on their hands and nodding their heads, much like the nodding dog in the insurance adverts) as the they listen to more ill thought out ‘efficiency savings’ and aspire to models of healthcare that may or may not work in other countries which DO NOT have a NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE such as ours. Mr Hancock in my opinion is a walking advert, likened to a guttering company that adverised years ago on TV with the ethos ‘prevention is cheaper than the cure’ Our representatives get their expenses paid, may I add for attending important meetings that ultimately only serve to adversly affect us....thus I believe we get exceptional value for money!!!! (I say this with an eyebrow raised, and tongue in cheek). Rant over! I bid you all a great day, and ‘au revoir’

A.S. Singh, Community pharmacist

Well put. It's showmenship. Reminds me of the Arsenal FC model. 

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