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Xrayser outraged 100-hour pharmacies could reduce their opening times

"Many companies cynically manipulated the exemption to gain an edge over well-loved pharmacies"

Xrayser is incensed the government is considering relaxing the essential requirement for 100-hour pharmacies

Prescription direction by distance-selling pharmacies wasn’t the only thing reviewed last month by the Department of Health and Social Care (DH). Its document also recommends the “government conduct a review of 100-hour pharmacies that analyses who uses these services and consider if any amendments to the terms of service for 100-hour pharmacies should be made”.

“Why is this?” you might ask. Because, the DH writes “…some business stakeholders raised a concern about the commercial viability of 100-hour pharmacies”, which will be a surprise to no one.

Even before the cuts to pharmacy funding in England, 100-hour pharmacies needed business well above the average contractor – business that came from existing pharmacies, because the GPs didn’t start writing extra scripts just because another chemist opened nearby. And you don’t have to wait long before an area manager lists their company’s 100-hour contracts that are making a loss, but are kept going in the hope the competition will close down soon.

The DH's review goes on to say: “Evidence was supplied indicating a very low use of early- and late-hour services from this type of pharmacy.” Well, no shit Sherlock. Who’d have guessed that this pointless exemption was neither needed nor used by patients, and consequently was often turned into an extended-hour, monitored-dosage-system sweatshop by many companies?

So how does the DH propose to address this? By considering “options to remove or reduce the requirements of the 100-hour pharmacies as set out at regulation”. In other words, allow 100-hour pharmacies to reduce their contracted core hours.

Now, some pharmacists have used the 100-hour exemption as a way to get into an otherwise unaffordable business sector, where a pharmacy is genuinely needed. They work incredibly long days with very little reward, often providing essential specialist medicine and general palliative care services for desperate patients and carers in their late-night hour of need. They’ve prevented those of us with conventional contracts having to be directed to open over public holidays by NHS England, and in many cases they are our friends and professional colleagues, for whom this could be the light at the end of a very long and bleak tunnel.

But there are many more individuals and companies who have cynically manipulated this exemption to gain a business edge over countless long-established and well-loved pharmacies. They have not won with better quality services or improved patient outcomes, but by having minimal set-up costs in the location of their choice. And they are responsible for the dilution of payment that is the funding cuts, causing the greatest possible damage to the stability of community pharmacy.

If any one of them is now permitted to reap the benefit of their cynical exploitation, there must be such an unholy cry by every contractor that it makes the pharmacy cuts petition look like a ripple on the ocean. You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to realise that.

Result

Do you think the government should "remove or reduce" the requirement for 100-hour pharmacies to open for 100 hours?
Yes
15%
No
85%
Total votes: 103

Read C+D's initial coverage of the DH's review – including its references to “strong evidence” of prescription direction by some distance-selling pharmacies – here.

13 Comments

Reeyah H, Community pharmacist

I’m absolutely staggered at this suggestion. They want 3000 pharmacies to close, but make the 100 hours viable?! So what about the 40 hour contractors who paid goodwills and have kept going even with the competition all around them? Absolute joke! 

Uma Patel, Community pharmacist

Another policy u turn by DoH.

Keith Ridge has been the most incompetent Chief Pharmacist since 1948. When was the last time he spent a day in a dispensary?

Amal England, Public Relations

On the contrary, I think Keith 'hacksaw' Ridge is VERY competent...... At destroying pharmacy as profession.

A Hussain, Senior Management

Seems to me to be the same people driving this who are probably telling the DH that they can deliver the contract cheaper than the existing model.  There will be all sorts of side deals and assurances being made when anyone with sense will understand that it will cost rather than save.  Think I'll just open on Saturdays whenever it suits me!

max falconer, Superintendent Pharmacist

Just shows, again government doesnt understand pharmacy and even worse doesnt care!

As pointed out by others won't actually save any money in fact will cost extra as in many areas will require revival of full rota services which have pretty much vanished in recent yeras. Not cheap to restart and we certainly won't do it unless properly remunerated. minimum £100ph week days up until 7pm then min £200 ph after 7pm or before 8am and weekends and £250ph bank holidays? 

 

Grumpy Pharm, Community pharmacist

It was a nice idea but cack handedlky applied and then ruthlessly exploited, but at least ended with all involved knowing that the ongoing rental/leasing cost of your contract, where you wanted it, was providing a 100hr service. To change the rules at this stage is an affront , frankly if you ditch the requirement then ditch those contracts as in effect their lease is up.

Farhat Ahmed, Locum pharmacist

Call me thick, but I have having a hard time trying to figure out how much money the DH are going to save by allowing 100 hour contracts to reduce their hours? I keep coming up with the big fat saving of ZERO POUNDS. However, how much money did the DH actually SPEND discussing the matter. Who is it that is pushing for this reduction, where is the backhander coming from and to who.

 

Amal England, Public Relations

The question is not how much the DoH saves, rather how much DoH are getting paid by a third party, or how much an individual within DoH is getting paid by a third party.

PoPeYe- Popeys Car Wash, Community pharmacist

The way I see it- The government encourages the big boys, (esp. supermarkets) to come in and open long hours because they want a free late night/Sat p.m./Sunday service where there are no rota requirements, less holiday closures, more chance to do G.P's rubbish jobs for them etc. for no extra outlay. The subsequent extra competition/dilution of the global sum would then force those "traditional" pharmacies who do awful things like close for lunch, out of business- so the economically unviable 100hrs contracts would become a decent proposition. This hasn't happened quickly enough, 100hrs contracts are losing money hand over fist and they don't want this inconvenience any more. Please, ministers, could you cut us some slack?

Din Patel, Manager

Scrap the evils of contract limitation that has made slaves of employees.

Let anyone open a "chemist shop" where ever they wish. Divide global funds between all contractors on a flat payment system.

Free markets must prevail.

Oh dear, some people are scared of competition.
 

Amal England, Public Relations

I don't want to be regarded as being part of a market, rather a profession and I want all kinds of restrictions and obstacles to prevent any Tom, Dick and Harry from becoming a pharmacist, let alone open a pharmacy. It's not a question of competition.

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

Free market? - So lots of GPs suddenly open their own pharmacy where they don't have to employ pharmacists - what price your free market then? Most Pharmacists don't mind a bit of healthy competition - provided it is on an equal footing; 100-hour contracts got a"leg-up" by being free in the first place; a "free market" would allow prescribers to dispense on a widespread scale (I never once mentioned script direction), sounding the death knell of pharmacy. Be careful what you wish for! 

Chemical Mistry, Information Technology

From what I gather it was the big boys involved in the consultation so have the government ear and if goes through then I would be writing to my MP and tell them in no uncertain terms that if they want to elected again then they should make their views known.

When you think pharmacy can no longer surprise you any more or make a bigger mess of things then this comes along and you again smack your head against the brick wall.

The whole point of a 100hrs contract was given to give out of hours pharmacy service when the other pharmacies were closed, i already know where multiples have brought contracts of other pharmacies to help reduce their hours.

The answer is and only one if they cannot fulfil their 100hr contract then it closes and hopefully bigger the 3000 pharmacies to close nearer.

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