The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has joined readers in taking to the C+D website to denounce the government’s call for increased access to online pharmacy services.
The Treasury and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills highlighted the need for the health service to “keep pace with the digital revolution” by ensuring patients have access to “online, delivery-to-door and click-and-collect pharmacy services”, in a policy document on Monday (November 30).
C+D readers were united in their condemnation of the plans. Community pharmacist Mark Brooks warned that more online pharmacies would result in “fewer pharmacies for the public to visit”, while pharmacist David Kent labelled the plans “another nail in the coffin of independent pharmacy”.
NPA head of external communications Stephen Fishwick said the organisation will “communicate our concerns about these short-sighted proposals to [the] government”.
“The document totally misses the point and betrays a lack of understanding of the pharmacy sector by the officials concerned,” Mr Fishwick posted on the C+D website.
NPA chair Ian Strachan branded click-and-collect models “unevidenced”. “Our patient base is primarily the elderly, who prefer face-to-face contact,” he posted on the website.
“Deliveries and repeat ordering are already well established principles in community pharmacy, so nothing new there,” he added.
Superintendent John Alan James Robinson said the government's plans sound like “muddy blue-sky thinking”. “The logistics could be a nightmare – imagine the poor patient who is not at home [and] doesn’t receive their medicines,” he posted.
Community pharmacist Mark Collins said the policy document “has totally missed the point”. “The community pharmacy service is already incredibly efficient and offers a multitude of systems allowing patients to choose how they interact with us,” he posted.
Pharmacist Steve Jeffers asked for the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) to “point out to the government that most pharmacies already provide a home delivery service and many offer the ability to order prescriptions via a website”.
In its document, the government also pledged to examine the sector's payment and regulation systems to ensure they are "efficient [and] encourage competition and innovation".