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‘Contractors should beware of borrowing to invest in their pharmacy’

"I have heard of pharmacists remortgaging or liquidating pensions to reinvest in their pharmacy"

The lack of a long-term plan for the sector means it is more important than ever to make well-considered decisions regarding your finances, warns Hemant Patel

Pharmacy contractors in England have experienced unprecedented challenges in terms of workload, increasing regulation, professional and contractual requirements, and financial constraints. These are now having a serious impact on their health and wellbeing.

The link between financial concerns and health in the community needs to be better articulated and action taken to help pharmacists manage this problem. A viable solution delayed is a solution denied for those suffering from stress and financial worries.

While it’s easy to express sympathy, little has so far been done to help the imperilled pharmacists who have invested life savings or borrowed money secured on their homes, often from close relatives. I have heard reports of pharmacists borrowing money by remortgaging their house or liquidating part of a pension fund to reinvest in their pharmacy.

I’m deeply concerned that some, if not all, such borrowing, is high risk. There is no five-year or even one-year plan for community pharmacy. Pharmacy owners must consider the possibility of income from dispensing spiralling down, and no new services being commissioned by the NHS to replace lost income.

If there is no or very small bottom line profits, it is time to think hard. Very hard. Objective decision making and managing emotions carefully has never been more important. The margin for – serious – error, has never been smaller.

There is going to be no financial miracle. The NHS long-term plan has confirmed this. The familiar model of community pharmacy with dispensing as the core activity is dead as a dodo.

There is a need for a decision-making tool to help pharmacists make well-considered decisions, based on reliable evidence, regarding the risk of an investment and anticipated return. I fear that many pharmacists who viewed their community pharmacy as their pension might end up with a smaller value than anticipated, or even in debt.

I’m asking pharmacists to think hard about the value of additional investment and certainty of a reasonable return before either borrowing to invest in a pharmacy or even to buy a pharmacy. 

Please consider and reconsider the following, alone and in partnership with your financial advisor. The value of investment in community pharmacies, or the income derived from them, can decrease as well as increase and you may not necessarily get back the amount you invested or are considering investing.

Hemant Patel is secretary of north-east London local pharmaceutical committee, and a member of both the National Pharmacy Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s English boards

What is C+D doing about pharmacy stress?

C+D created a briefing document, which was passed to England’s chief pharmaceutical officer Keith Ridge by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society to persuade him of the damage stress is causing to community pharmacy. Download it, and read C+D’s in-depth coverage of the data.

Let C+D know about your own experiences of stress by emailing [email protected]. Please state if you prefer your comments to remain anonymous.


R A, Community pharmacist

Hi Hemant,

I remember starting my pharmacy degree in 2006, with the aim of buying my own pharmacy serving my local community and earn a decent living in the process. 

Fast forward to 2019 my aim is to quit the profession! As a profession, we have been completely wrecked. I say this because the only side that offers any long term viability is hospital pharmacy but the majority of the jobs are rooted in the community.

I realised back 2014 owning a pharmacy business was not sustainable because funding was insufficient to allow you to invest in the business to maintain a safe level of staffing and humane working condition whilst still earning a profit. This leaves you with working with a multiple. Multiple themselves are stuck in the same situation for various reason making it difficult to build a long term career in pharmacy. Unless an individual has no regard for their health as you will destroy your health working for such companies. The remaining option is primary care I have reservations because the NHS itself is crumbling due to poor long term investment and pharmacists are seen as a cheap alternative to GP unfortunately with a market saturated with pharmacists I fear earnings will come down because of job competition.

I wish my colleagues all the best but I have no desire to combat in such a negative environment and destroy my health and the best years of my life. I would rather take a low paid job that I enjoy outside of pharmacy and be grateful for a more peaceful life, rather than worry about my work outside of work incessantly, which I guess is a major issue for most pharmacists. 


Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

You could buy a Dominos franchise, make 100k+ a year, and you don't get a suspended sentence if you put pepperoni instead of anchovies. And it means you can exit a corrupted industry where everyone is scratching someone else's back. Plus you never have to be at work because you can employ a manager and stay at home with your family!

HP is one of, if not the single KEY PLAYER who got us where we are now.

Lucky Ex-Boots Slave, Primary care pharmacist

May as well close down pharmacies and open up grocery stores instead. At least you don't need to go to jail when you make an error and you don't get "customers" yelling at you when they run out of food blaming you for not reminding them to buy their food beforehand! 

Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

Not to mention that you'd almost certainly make more money.

Peed Off Superintendent, Superintendent Pharmacist

The time has come for contractors to ask their LPC how much money is taken from your PPA statements and given by them to the PSNC. What would happen if we refused to pay this considerable sum to an organisation that is basically shutting us down?

Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

I can't imagine why anyone would borrow money to desperately try and prop up a business that the government is systematically trying it's best to eradicate. Even more suprising that the bank would lend for that purpose.

"The familiar model of community pharmacy with dispensing as the core activity is dead as a dodo".

Couldn't have said it better myself. Very true.

Graham Turner, Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

The familiar model of a UK community pharmacy being a business that actually earns a profit is dead as a dodo.

N patel , Non Pharmacist Branch Manager

sooo true.....and all this time our useless negotiators want us to do more for less point trying to prove out value to the DoH when all the want to do is inflict maximum damage on contracors



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