Layer 1

Pharmacists hit back at Howe's call for proof of harm from shortages

Sort Out Stocks Pharmacists have challenged the pharmacy minister’s call for them to prove that medicines shortages are causing patient harm, claiming they have already sent enough evidence for the government to treat it as a priority.

Pharmacists have rebuffed pharmacy minister Earl Howe's call for them to prove that medicines shortages are causing patient harm, claiming they have already sent enough evidence for the government to treat it as a priority.

Earl Howe reiterated his claim that the government's approach to shortages was "the right one" and challenged pharmacists to provide proof that supply problems were causing patients serious harm, rather than inconvenience, in an exclusive interview with C+D last week (July 30).

But pharmacists said the government was "completely naive" to think that shortages were not harming patients and questioned what else pharmacy bodies could do to persuade the minister of the seriousness of supply problems.

"They don't want to see the anecdotal reports that we're feeding into them. It seems like they don't want persuading" Robbie Turner, CPWY

More on stock shortages

Report your instances of stock shortages and       download tools to highlight the problem

Sign C+D's petition on stock shortages

Earl Howe on medicines shortages


Community Pharmacy West Yorkshire (CPWY) chief executive Robbie Turner stressed that he had already told the Department of Health that patients had been harmed. "They don't want to see the anecdotal reports that we're feeding into them. It seems like they don't want persuading," he told C+D.

As well as direct harm, shortages could undermine medicines optimisation strategies by making patients feel that pharmacists did not take the supply of their medicines seriously, he added.

Pharmacy Voice said it had submitted robust data to the government about the impact of shortages on patients "months ago".

"It reveals widespread and frequent incidents of patient distress, which ought to be quite enough for the Department of Health to treat the matter as a priority," said Pharmacy Voice spokesperson Gareth Jones.

Mike Hewitson, owner of Beaminster Pharmacy, Dorset, said it was "completely naive" to think that shortages did not cause harm. "For some people, anxiety is as much a cause of harm and distress as physical symptoms," he told C+D.

Last week, CPWY and Leeds local medical committee expressed disappointment with the response they received from the Department of Health to their joint letter calling for "firm action" on shortages.

Pharmacy leaders hit back at Earl Howe in November last year when he told the all-party pharmacy group that the government's approach to shortages was "working well". He was also "not aware" of the shortages causing patient harm, he said at the time.

C+D has launched:

a stock shortages reporting app

a patient petition

a window poster

a customer leaflet

Visit the Sort Out Stocks homepage for more information and to sign C+D's petition against stock shortages.

Will you use C+D's tools to make the government aware of patient harm from shortages in your pharmacy?

Comment below or email us at [email protected] You can also find C+D on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook


Ahmed El-Dabbagh, Community pharmacist

The minster said shortage of medicines caused no harm just inconvenience. That is incredible we are now convenient stores rather than Pharmacies.
Is that what he thinks of us?.
Patient use their medicines for convenience rather than for life thretening health reasons.
or miserable illness.
When my patient who have knee damage and in constant pain ,have difficulty to walk and can't turn up to work comes to me to ask for his Depo-medrone 80mg imjection I am going to follow the minster remarks and say to the patient sorry about the inconvenience and stop moaning.

Gareth Rowe, Community pharmacist

I hope that someone is also putting forward the point to the government that the only reason stock shortages aren't harming patients MORE is because we are running around like idiots phoning, faxing, emailing in order to get stock for them. My local MP, Huw Irranca Davies, is pursiung this issue and when I first spoke to him he said he hadn't realised there was a problem as no constituents had contacted him up until one patient couldn't get Femara.
I explained that the reason was we were often sorting out the problem before most patients even knew about it, but it was costing us a huge amount of time, stress and effort and this is still continuing. With the NCSO situation, where we often cannot source stock for what they will reimburse us, it's a bit ridiculous.
Anyway, let's hope that pharmacists don't get so overwhelmed they just hand back scripts to patients saying 'sorry can't get it' and give them Earl Howe's number!

Arun Jangra, Community pharmacist

the facts are that they know everything. Just dont want to upset there mates. when we asked for enquiry last time we were told no. nothing was even looded at . why? This is patients lives that we are messing with.
They should not allow companies to wholesale and retail the main lines . there is a conflict.

Arun Jangra, Community pharmacist

I think that these people live in another world to the rest of us. When Pharmacists complain they do nothing. I think what we should do is when ever there is a shortage and a problem with medication , get the patient to sign a letter and we give these letters to our local Mp's. This will give these MP's something to do and have all the data that they want. .They have made a joke out of the NHS.

James Brown, Other healthcare professional

Thanks for your comment, Arun, C+D is providing a stock letter (above, patient petition) that you can ask your patient to fill in and return to C+D, who will submit the collected letters and evidence to the government later this year.

Job of the week

Relief Pharmacist or store based Pharmacist
Mid Wales - Powys (Builth and Lland
Competitive Salary + Location Supplement and Benefits