Pharmacies face a "dilemma" about how to supply care homes after a company that provided medicines to hundreds of residential homes unexpectedly closed.
Midlands contractors and LPCs told C+D they were trying to ensure care homes continued to be supplied with medicines after Bristol-based distance selling company Pharmacy Plus withdrew from its community pharmacy contract on May 16.
The company's administrator Zolfo Cooper said "severe cash-flow shortages" had forced the company to close and care home residents would have to find "alternative sources" to obtain their prescriptions.
NHS England said Pharmacy Plus had served "several hundred" care homes in England, Scotland and Wales but neither they nor Zolfo Cooper specified locations.
C+D spoke to LPC representatives from 12 areas of England but only those in Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire were aware that local care homes would be affected by the closure of Pharmacy Plus.
Nottinghamshire LPC secretary Nick Hunter said one local pharmacy had agreed to supply three care homes affected by the closure. It had been "very difficult" to find out which care homes Pharmacy Plus had supplied, he added.
"We have a good network of pharmacists in Nottinghamshire and they will get patients through in the short term. But it could be quite complicated with a huge care home, especially if they have complex needs," he said.
Contractor Ritesh Gokani, of 3Q Pharmacy in Northamptonshire, said he had agreed to supply a big local care home for a month, which had caused some "extra strain".
Care home residents have had to seek ‘alternative sources' to obtain their prescriptions
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Mr Gokani faced a "dilemma" about whether to commit extra resources to supplying the care home in the long term, he told C+D.
"Luckily we are a 100-hour pharmacy but it does put extra pressure on the existing workload because we're quite busy," he said.
Other contractors told C+D they would not be able to help out. Rizwan Moledina, of Croyland Pharmacy in Northamptonshire, said he would have to employ an extra member of staff in order to supply local care homes.
"We're closed Saturday morning and Wednesday afternoon. If there was an emergency, we can't help out. We have enough workload [from] the local community as it is," he told C+D.
The prescribing and medicines management team for Nene and Corby CCGs in Northamptonshire said it had emailed its local GP practices and pharmacists to encourage close communication between practices and affected care homes.
Head of prescribing Sue Smith said the CCGs had done the best they could to ensure care homes continued to receive their medicines, but it "would have been helpful" if Pharmacy Plus had contacted the CCG directly to confirm which homes would require a new medicines supplier.
NHS England said it had been in contact with CCGs and local area teams in regions with affected care homes to make them aware of the situation and "ensure alternatives are put in place".
Zolfo Cooper said 240 jobs had been lost when the Pharmacy Plus closed due to "a reduction in trading volumes and supplier pressure". The administrator was working closely with the NHS to ensure "minimal disruption" to care homes, it added.
Pharmacy Plus was unavailable for comment.
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