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'My pharmacies lose £7k a month. I should have bought coffee shops'

“The sector is facing increasing, unprecedented workplace pressures”

Rising employment and drug costs combined with poor remuneration have led to an overall loss of £7,000 a month for one disillusioned owner of three pharmacies

The remuneration of pharmacies is nothing less than an absolute disgrace. The government has found easy pickings with pharmacy, because we don’t have a strong enough collective voice and we don’t go on strikes.

My company has three pharmacies where we own the freeholds, and yet in the last four months my business overall has made a loss of almost £7,000 per month. There seems to be no sign of this abating. We now also have a situation where the costs of employing staff are going up, due to the minimum wage increasing, while our remuneration is decreasing.

Where else do you find mugs who dispense prescriptions, only to find that at times they are reimbursed less than what was paid for the medicines? Nowadays, if you are unfortunate enough to own a pharmacy, you get headaches untold.

The community pharmacist gets clobbered with so many new regulations, and then must keep up with the ever-changing drug prices and buying dilemmas. We spend untold numbers of hours just checking prices to avoid dispensing at a loss, let alone to make a profit.

The NHS has become greedy and now sees pharmacy as an easy target. It started with a limited timeframe for this category M clawback – pharmacy's own fault for not being vigilant enough in the first instance – but the funding cuts now seem to be never ending.

The sector is also facing increasing and unprecedented workplace pressures, keeping up with new regulations and, most of all, trying to keep our heads above the water in these challenging times.

I would have been better off running coffee shops, as I would have at least made a decent profit without the associated headache of running a pharmacy – and the added responsibility of dealing with people’s lives. Pharmacists can’t afford to be complacent at any time. Who wants that stress?

When it comes to the remuneration of pharmacy, the NHS has lost track and is now treading on dangerous grounds, as the sector is in total financial chaos. I’m glad I’m no longer a young pharmacy owner, because the future seems to be bleak and daunting.

The contractor owns three community pharmacies in south England

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Kamran Safdar, Locum pharmacist

Growing up, we had family friends who owned a couple of Pharmacies. Both parents were Pharmacists, they worked 7 days, and often barely saw their kids. When I started my MPharm in 2007 - they made a surprise visit to our house - one piece of advice - 'Go into hospital Pharmacy, we know a few guys in the local hospitals - we'll have a word to see if you shadow them for a day or two - we'll do anything to help - just don't go into community, we're not appreciated and the profit is declining the money is in the property itself – and we make more profit the toiletries on the shop floor. We would have been better offer opening a convenience store and buying buy-to-let property. Not the answer, I gave for my pre-reg interviews and future job interviews - but always a motivation. This was back in 2007.

AJ Smith, Locum pharmacist




Would be interesting to know a bit more about these pharmacies e.g. rough location, local competition, item numbers (and how stable they have been), other services, OTC performance, staff levels etc.

This would give the readers a better understanding of the troubles this owner is having. At the moment it is a bit too vague.

, Superintendent Pharmacist

Wrong. The remuneration of pharmacists is nothing less than an absolute disgrace, not pharmacies.

Why do you expect sympathy? For years you screwed your locums and attempted to pay them as little as possible instead of treating them like professionals and increasing rates every year. This way you could have justified costs to the the government and they would have to pay for services bearing in mind costs incurred. By screwing locums and employees, you screwed yourself.  I bet you support contract limitation as it allowed you to screw your employees and you know you have little fear of additional competition. Scrap contract limitation and compete as a business does. If you do not want to compete in a free market, do not expect to make a profit.

Remember the old days? Drug tariff £6. Real price £1. You didn't complain then did you? Then you got greedy buying parallel imports.

Poetic justice.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

The locum rate by a big agency was frozen in 2008. Yet, the global sum continued to go up I believe, until the cuts in 2016.  Explosion of new graduates, supply and demand, didn't need to increase rates, and still haven't 11 and a half years later!  So where did all that money go, that would have given me and others a 50p or £1 a year increase over those 8 yrs?   Now the contractor is being cut themselves...... Well ! Mention anything to those 'upstairs' .....well it's the cuts isn't it. That's why we can't do/get/buy x/y/z! Maybe it's not as simple as I view it? I would be interested in someone explaining if I misunderstand.

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

I hear crickets chirping....

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

Sounds bad But I'd like an independent accountant to cast an eye over the books before making judgement. I say this as premiums remain relatively healthy ?!

Alexander The Great, Community pharmacist

Lol, you are funny. News after news of cuts, stories after stories of broken businesses, stores sold and closed down by multiples, you think this is fake news????

Benie I, Locum pharmacist

I'm sure it's very real but as we both know accountancy can sometimes be a very creative art. HMRC come knocking at he door for their share and revenues and profits are on the floor. And when its sale time revenues and profits are soaring into the sky to reflect a tremendous business on an infinite upward curve for the prospective buyer. I'm only being realistic. 

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

The rot set in when John Major cut the on cost element.

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

Join london transport £55k or better still southern region £75K as a driver . The government wants pharmacies to close . THEY HAVE STATED IT IN BLACK AND WHITE ! Don't you read the C&D ?


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