The current landscape is probably the most challenging that community pharmacy has ever faced, certainly in our professional memory. A combination of the ongoing under-funding and the workload and workforce pressures are a perfect storm for pharmacy owners, pharmacists and their teams.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we all think and act and it has accelerated changes in consumer expectations and behaviours. It has also positively changed the NHS’s view of community pharmacy and how it may use it in the future as an integrated part of primary care. However, the Treasury’s view of funding has not changed and no sign that it will despite the various pharmacy organisations lobbying for that. #OneVoice
Online shopping, increased use of distance selling pharmacies, digital health and technological innovation has and continues to require community pharmacies to adapt to a new health and business landscape.
Large multiple pharmacy groups have already announced significant remodelling plans in response to these challenges.
Where does this leave independent pharmacy?
The outcomes of our research through conversations and working in and with independent pharmacies has shown that they and their teams are facing a number of critical problems:
- Financial – cash-flow and reduced margins
- Personal strain and mental ill-health
- Feeling overwhelmed and out of control
- Team recruitment, retention and performance
- Capacity and time to plan and deliver
In addition, new and extended NHS services have been announced including GP referrals into the Community Pharmacist Consultation Service, the Hypertension Service, the Discharge Medicines Service, Smoking Cessation Referrals and a Contraception Service. These and others in the CPCF pipeline are welcomed as part of a further integration into health provision in primary care. However, there is no new funding associated with these, only recycled money within the existing 5-year contract sum = more for the same, or in real terms, 30% less!
Pharmacy must find a way to take back control; to create the time, capability and energy to embrace and deliver these services. Pharmacy must also be less reliant on a single payor (the NHS) by developing their non-NHS service and OTC income.
Pharmacy owners can delay no longer, there is an urgent need to develop their own recovery plan.
The Pharmacy Complete Reset and Recover Programme has been developed utilising all our knowledge, skills and experience and is designed to support all the required elements to help address these problems and create an effective business recovery plan specific to community pharmacy. Click on the link above to find out more and see how we can help you to help yourself.