Is Community Pharmacy Going Under

Someone at Commissioning Live has a sense of humour with the title to the speaker panel that I attended recently.

The panel all said ‘no’, but I don’t think that is true. Most pharmacies won’t go under, but complacency killed many businesses and it is important that community pharmacy changes over the next few year with the expectation that the NHS funding might reduce again. I suggested that there were a few things that needed to be considered:

    • Are we procurement driven or clinically led
    • Are we independent or dependent
    • Are we reactive or proactive
  • Do we recognise the needs of the community we serve


Delegates asked about the importance of recognition, but I challenged that in asking is recognition proportional to funding and who needs to recognise community pharmacy for it to be a flourishing business.

I reflected if whether we agreed that community pharmacy was a professional clinical retail healthcare environment and that is the differentiator in the market place.

Community Pharmacy success at procurement is a double edged sword. Yes we have driven prices down and this has saved many millions for the government. But Finance director’s belief that there are always saving to be made in the prescribing budget, and the government’s belief that they still pay over the odds for their medicines has put pressure within the system. It has driven us to think cheap rather than quality and value.

I had to correct a panel member who commented about the role of General Practice – Community Pharmacy is the gatekeeper to the NHS – we just have to believe it. The NHS needs to reduce the demand on General Practice, deliver a step change in self-care, reduce the determinants of ill health, provide access out of hours and la de la de la. It is all in the Sustainability and Transformation Plan and it can’t be delivered without community pharmacy. Why am I not impressed – it was all in the 2008 White Paper – that’s why! And it was also pointed out that it was in plans many years before. If community pharmacy couldn’t deliver it then – why now?

But the delegates know the answer to that one. I can’t imagine the frustration that the government and civil servants must have writing all of those strategies and visions and not seeing the community pharmacy network implement them in a co-ordinated and successful manner. Is it really FIFO time for community pharmacy – change or be damned?

Change takes time, but time waits for no man. The time is right for change and it is now or never


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