What is it?
NHS Digital have released their latest report on services provided by community pharmacies in England between 2007/08 and 2017/18.
What does it say?
- The total number of community pharmacy contractors fell by 80 (0.7%) on 2016/17 to 11,619 with the proportion of independents (5 or less pharmacies) remaining at 38%
- The number of 100 hour contracts fell by 10 to 1,179
- The number of distance selling pharmacies rose by 29 to 350
- The total number of prescriptions dispensed in community pharmacies in 2017/18 was 1,013.3 million, a fall of 2.3 million on 2016/17 with the average number of items per pharmacy at 7,267 per month
- 97.3% of pharmacies provided the Medicines Use Review service (MURs) with the average per pharmacy being 299 which was no improvement on 2016/17
- 89% of pharmacies provided the New Medicine Service (NMS) with an average of 90 per pharmacy
- 77% of pharmacies provided the NHS Flu Vaccination service and delivered 1.34 million vaccinations (an average of 150 per participating pharmacy and a 40% increase on 2016/17) to improve the reach of this important protection intervention. This was worth £12.3 million in fees
- 3,930 pharmacies delivered one or more locally commissioned Enhanced Services, a 3% drop on 2016/17
What does it mean?
- Its tough out there!
- The number of pharmacies serving communities are declining, i.e. no longer viable and/or through consolidation
- The number of DSPs are increasing and the number of items they are delivering are increasing against the normal trend
- A potential 1.4 million MURs were not completed equivalent to £35 million left on the table, despite the funding cuts, to the detriment of patients and the contractors involved
- 318 (11%) pharmacies chose not to deliver the NMS
- 2613 (23%) pharmacies chose not to deliver the NHS Flu Vaccination service. If they all engaged and delivered the 2017 average of 150 vaccinations, this would be mean an additional 391,950 patients would be vaccinated which would be worth £3.6m in fees to those additional pharmacies
- We could move the flu median up by using the whole pharmacy team to effectively implement and promote the flu service
- Local services continue to be decommissioned for whatever reason, e.g. funding challenges, poor understanding of commissioners of the benefits of using community pharmacies, poor or inconsistent delivery by some pharmacies
Community pharmacy’s ‘cheese’ has moved and, in the rapidly changing health and consumer ecosystems in which we operate, we must constantly adapt to remain relevant and compelling to commissioners and consumers of our services. In addition to pursuing an effective contractual framework and new locally commissioned services, we must plan for a sustainable future, embrace the digital healthcare revolution, be more effective at supporting self care and explore opportunities for private services to reduce dependence on NHS revenue which is declining in value and profitability.