Quarter of pharmacies to charge for home deliveries, C+D poll reveals

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Meiklejohn Pharmacy is one of many considering charging patients for medicine deliveries
Meiklejohn Pharmacy is one of many considering charging patients for medicine deliveries

Over a quarter of pharmacies (27%) will start charging patients to deliver medicines to their homes, a C+D poll has revealed.

Forty-two of 156 respondents to the poll – which ran on the C+D website from November 21 to December 4 – said their pharmacy planned to start charging patients for home deliveries, and 65 (42%) said they “are considering” charging patients for the service.

Forty-four (28%) respondents said they would not charge for home deliveries, while five respondents (3%) said they already do so.

Lloydspharmacy announced last month (November 21) that “over the next few weeks” it will start charging new patients for medicines deliveries: introducing a charge of £35 for a six-month subscription to the service, and £60 for a 12-month subscription.

View the poll results:

Result

Will your pharmacy follow Lloydspharmacy's lead and start charging patients for home deliveries?
Yes
27%
Maybe, we are considering it
42%
No
28%
My pharmacy already charges patients for deliveries
3%
Total votes: 156
“Others will follow”

Independent contractor Indira Panchal, who owns four pharmacies in Bedford, said she would consider charging patients for home deliveries.

“[A time is] going to come when people have to charge. We can’t carry on like this because it does cost a lot of money,” she told C+D.

“Once the big boys start, then the others will follow. If they charge why shouldn’t we?”

Ms Panchal – whose husband Sailesh (pictured above) and another employee deliver medicines to patients – stressed she would deliver for free to elderly or housebound patients.

“A very tricky question”

Alan Kurtz, the owner of Fisher’s Pharmacy in South Norwood, London, said that if everyone elsecharges for deliveries, he would follow suit.

Mr Kurtz’s pharmacy has two drivers who complete between 50 and 100 deliveries daily, six days a week, and he told C+D it is “one of the most costly things we do”.

Whether his pharmacy would charge for the service was a “very tricky question”.

“It’s increasingly difficult for us to pay for it but we’re in a competitive situation”, he said.

“We’re a service industry, part of a caring profession. We’re delivering to people who are being looked after by carers, people who are quite poor. Some people just can’t [pay].”

Read about the uncertain future of pharmacy delivery drivers here.

8 Comments
Question: 
What are the potential issues with charging patients for home deliveries?

S Morein, Pharmacy Area manager/ Operations Manager

75% not charging is the real headline.

P M, Community pharmacist

aplliance contractors get a delivery fee - why not meds?

Amal England, Public Relations

Online pharmacies must deliver free of charge.... Irrespective of how far it is. It may have seemed like a good idea to a handful of people at the time, but all this free stuff that pharmacies offer goes against the profession. Try and ask your local lawyer for a free 5 min Consultation at your convenience. Pharmacy is not a social hub, nor is it a subsidiary of the Government benefits office. It is a private contractor to the NHS. If a GP can pass on the costs of ink cartridges to the NHS, then a pharmacist must either be able to charge for deliveries or pass the cost on to the NHS. In addition, the professional leadership must start moving away from this 'no appointment necessary, just hop in any time'.

A Hussain, Senior Management

Blister Packs yes, but you might as well send your patients a link to an online pharmacies website if you start charging for deliveries.  I understand that you might get away with it in some areas, but in most you won't in my opinion.

Meera Sharma, Community pharmacist

Have said it for a while - all deliveries should be charged. In this day and age when internet-based sales are going through the roof at the expense of the high streets, everyone is used to paying for deliveries. Medicines are no different and it's about time that pharmacies stop subsidising social care. OTC meds are being stopped, low value items are being stopped on prescription and as per Simon Steve's statement - "The NHS will, have to review what it provides due to funding constraints". What makes pharmacy any different??

A B, Community pharmacist

I agree, but many online based companies provide free delivery these days. Unfortunately in a lot of cases pharmacies choose to provide a free local delivery service to make sure they keep their business. If they didn't then P2U or another pharmacy down the road could potentially take that patient. Most pharmacies are so reliant on script volume so will continue to do whatever it takes to keep patients, even if it means making a smaller return per item by providing free deliveries.

I'm hoping that if all CCGs ban third party script requests it will stop P2U and alike being able to offer their service as they do now. This may mean pharmacies are less scared to lose their business by introducing delivery charges.

Simon MEDLEY, Community pharmacist

Just think of the “USP “we’d gift to P2u if all bricks and mortar pharmacies started charging

Sassa Jones, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Just wondering how this affects distance selling pharmacies, does anyone know if a distance selling pharmacy can charge for delivery or express delivery etc.

From PSNC

"Q. Can a distance selling pharmacy charge for delivery of prescriptions?
A. Under the National Health Service 2006 (Part 1 1(3)), all NHS services must be provided free of charge except where a charge has been expressly mandated by legislation. As no legislation has been passed that would allow this, it would be against the Act to request payment for the delivery of a prescription. Bricks and mortar pharmacies are able to charge for delivery as part of a private service (except where the item is a Part IXA specified appliance)."

 

You would think that both a distance selling pharmacy and high-street would be under the same rules for delivery charges of NHS services?

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