The multiple’s new “optimised” free home delivery service “will now focus on improving the support provided to housebound patients” only, it announced today (July 27).
Managing director Kenny Black said: “At a time when community pharmacy is facing unprecedented financial pressures, this means we cannot continue to offer a free home delivery service for all.
“We can no longer provide an expensive convenient service which the NHS is not willing to pay for,” he stressed.
Rowlands – which operates 521 branches across the UK – did not specify when the free deliveries will stop, or if non-housebound patients will be charged to have their medicines delivered to their homes.
“Pharmacies are more than just prescriptions”
“Ensuring housebound patients get the medicines they need is an important part of the care we provide. We have decided to improve the service we offer to those patients, which we know they will welcome as an improvement on current arrangements,” Mr Black said.
“We recognise that [the announcement] will disappoint some patients, but we hope they recognise that our priority has to be supporting the most vulnerable in our communities.
“It also reinforces the message that your local pharmacy is not simply a place to pick up your prescription; rather a place you visit in order to seek support and advice about taking your medication, healthy living and appropriate self-care,” he added.
Rowlands is the second multiple to reduce its free medicines delivery service, after Lloydspharmacy announced last November that it would start charging new customers for deliveries to their homes.
In May, Mr Black told C+D the multiple was considering “reducing its branch network” because of the “draconian” cuts to community pharmacy funding in England. Four Rowlands branches have closed in the wake of the funding cuts, according to C+D’s exclusive investigation into pharmacy closures across England.
In December, a C+D poll of 156 readers found that over a quarter of pharmacies (27%) planned to start charging patients to deliver medicines to their homes, and 42% said they were considering charging for deliveries.