Jeremy Meader – who will replace John D’Arcy as managing director of Numark in February – told C+D last week (December 7) that the buying group is investing in helping pharmacies overcome the "challenges" of "embracing new technology".
"In terms of the specific areas we’re looking at clearly, [one] is if hub-and-spoke regulations change, we could potentially offer members a service there," Mr Meader said.
He stressed the “challenge” is to "make sure we’re harnessing technology to everyone’s advantage".
"While hub-and-spoke is not necessarily the solution for all community pharmacies, people need to be able to choose, and therefore we would like to be in a position whereby we have an offering there that is appropriate."
"We're reflecting on the fact that there is a change within pharmacy in terms of the work balance. The government is clearly driving towards funding less for dispensing services and hopefully more towards clinical patient services," he said.
Last year, the Department of Health launched a consultation to collect views on changing the law to allow independent pharmacies to operate a hub-and-spoke dispensing model.
"The money will go elsewhere"
The sector has to recognise "what kind of services the government will be prepared to pay for, and how much they’d be prepared to pay", said Mr Meader, who is currently sales director at wholesaler Phoenix – which owns Numark.
"If we can’t demonstrate those efficiencies, if we don’t develop further services, then the reality is the money will probably go elsewhere," he stressed.
Pharmacists facing "real hardship"
In terms of funding, Mr Meader said the "situation really is quite grim at the moment". "We’ve got a number of members who are facing real hardship."
"It’s not just the individuals who are affected, it’s the whole community who relies on a local community pharmacy for access to vital medicines."
Mr Meader added the "biggest challenge of all" remains the government’s view on pharmacy.
"That's the one that we really have to tackle very hard, because if we don't change [its] views over time, then you fear for essentially the future of pharmacy as we know it today."