Several years ago (2013) I wrote a blog called ‘dispensing on the Titanic’. I have to admit that I never expected community pharmacy to be so resistant to change and that the government left it so long to act. But it is here and now and the impact is larger than we might have expected.
Community pharmacy is in crisis – there is no two ways about it. The drop in income is significant. The change to a more clinically focussed, professional retail healthcare service has not happened. The NHS commissioning has slowed or gone into reverse. Local co-operation is struggling. And what’s more we are still not prepared for change.
All in all it is a disaster. But it doesn’t have to be. At last every community pharmacy has got the message – change or go out of business – there is little doubt about this now. There is no saviour waiting in the wings and vote grabbing promises mean very little in a country that just doesn’t have the money to fund everything.
It is down to us – that is the only thing for certain. It has to start now – we need to invest before things get impossible to change. And we have to be fast – driving new income streams is the most important thing.
- Premises – we do have to consider the look and feel of our premises – it is not about nice shelves, but do we look and feel like a professional clinical retail healthcare environment.
- Staff – are we dressed properly, engaging and informative? Are we moving from being reactive to proactive?
- Products – are we looking at products that differentiate us?
- Services – are we delivering services that people want and need?
- Marketing – are we reaching out to the right customers who want our services and products?
- Training – are we able to access the right training and experience to deliver different services
- Co-operation – are we able to build together, sharing some experiences and expertise and the will to be a commissionable force within primary care?
Every month we bleed a little more. In 2013 we said it was ‘Now or Never’ now it really is.