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‘Dear DH, I’m struggling despite putting £40k into my pharmacy’

"Please get on with announcing the contract"

Pharmacies can’t continue paying mounting wholesaler bills on a shoestring budget, The Contractor warns the government

Dear negotiators at the Department of Health and Social Care,

In response to the National Pharmacy Association’s (NPA) letter to Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee chief executive Simon Dukes, I thought I would write my own letter to you directly.

The NPA outlined the very difficult position us contractors are in. Each point raised by them was eloquently put and very real.

The negotiations for the new pharmacy funding contract started in April, so perhaps I should have written earlier. I remember the very timely video by former NPA chair Ian Strachan when the funding cuts were announced. He was so real and devastated, yet no one in government took any notice of his warnings. I really do hope you read the letter from NPA chief executive Mark Lyonette and digest what they are saying this time.

With regards to the NPA mentioning that contractors have put their own money in to survive, I would like to confirm that I have parted with nearly £40,000 by selling personal assets over two years and am still falling behind on wholesaler bills. The fees paid by you to us have consistently gone straight into paying off wholesaler bills, leaving us on a shoestring budget.

We don’t replace staff. Instead, my poor existing employees just carry on trying to fill gaps while I have to watch them struggle, helpless in the situation we have been put in.

The NPA has pointed out that “an uncontrolled and unpredictable series of closures” will quickly become a reality if the new contract does not fund our existence. This will not be a saving to you – A&E and GP surgeries will feel the pressures.

As a struggling contractor, I am very concerned that you will ignore the NPA’s letter and make a statement along the lines of “everything has been taken into account, but...”. If that is the case, we won’t be able to sustain our businesses any further.

Please get on with announcing the contract so I can either get out of the race reluctantly, or help all of the healthcare system to win as a team. We are all ready to join.

Yours sincerely,

A struggling pharmacy owner

The Contractor is an independent pharmacy owner in England


Ronald Trump, Pharmaceutical Adviser

If pharmacies are so unprofitable nowadays why are there so many still open? They're still profitable, just not the lucrative cash-cows they used to be. Instead of a merc you'll have to settle for a ford. If you dont like it and you think its not going anywhere, dont put your own money into it like a fool. Sell up and try something else like opening your own cupcake shop. That way theres more money to be shared amongst the remaining pharmacies. Goverment strategy seems to be working and the weak will be filtered out.

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

The government stated from the very beginning they are aiming to close down around 3000 pharmacies, and it will be the weakest pharmacies to go. Hopefully, you will realise that you are one of those and close down soon. After they hit that magic number of closures, they should increase remuneration again.

So please, stop putting your own cash into the business and close down to make things better sooner for the rest of us.

C A, Community pharmacist

You are either highly optimistic or naive, that after 3000 closures the government will increase funding.
If you survive the cuts you are doing well enough, and that will be reason enough for the DH to do nothing.
If you close you weren't engaged enough/providing enough services/were not efficient enough/were in a cluster/weren't needed etc.
It literally is win/win for the DH.

C A, Community pharmacist

The Contractor - if you are plowing money into your pharmacy you need to assess whether continuing is sensible. Hopefully the new contract will bring some relief, but failing that get some advice and don't bankrupt yourself trying to carry on if there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

I am sorry to say this but there must be something wrong with your business plan. You need some professional advice from an accountant or business consultant.

You need to identify what factors you need to eliminate in order to make profit.

You require some serious business planning advice

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

Hi PP- clearly, you are not a contractor. It’s actually impossible to improve on things, unless someone is going to give free stock to us. 

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

Even the best businessman out there will end up making a loss with the current state of community pharmacy, unless one has some inside info to purchase drugs before price-hike due to shortages. I ain't gonna go deep into that. And the everlasting funding slash simply makes the whole model unsustainable and unviable. Please don't say to start offering private services because there is literally no demand for these, unless the nhs collapses and/or things get privatised. Why would one pop into a pharmacy to get norethisterone for period delay for £20 when you can get them for free from GPs, or £70 for tadalafil/cialis when GPs dish them out like candies, or £30 for a Duac gel when it's all ''free'' from docs?

Anyway the best solution is - close down your pharmacy and open a grocery store instead. You also get less insomnia, ear ache, heartburn, depression and migraine from that. Your next LFT may also improve drastically with the massive cut down on spirits. At the very least you won't have any more people shouting at and blaming you for not reminding/texting them to come shopping when they run out of food.

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

ABD DEF, you’ve nailed it. 

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