It is a funny time.
All I hear are discussions about the term ‘clinical’, about supervision, about the law suites and about shortages of medicines. A Pharmacy isn’t a Pharmacy without a pharmacist and you can’t separate supply from clinical services. There seems to be a mist falling demonstrating the whole professions wish to move backwards into the good old times and reluctance to move forwards. The eloquent ask for one voice – but saying what, on behalf of whom, delivering which future? It might be time for a different voice talking about a different future.
I have heard chatter in the backroom about a new breed of pharmacy. The one without a dispensing contract with the NHS. It is not unheard of – the dentists did it – but despite the chatter and the goading – I have not seen a Pharmacy do it.
Now this is the real question. Could a pharmacy survive without an NHS contract? What would it do?
The first thing to suggest is that it won’t need its dispensing technician and ACT, but it will need a pharmacist and a team on the counter and the appropriate support staff. The overheads would still be £100 an hour, so it would need to put at least £300 into the till every hour to make a profit. Surely this is break –even, but you can probably can expect 30% margin on products, but higher on services.
So there you go – start thinking – here is your challenge for today.
- Multi-professional location – I would rent out one of my consultation suites. Perhaps a podiatrist or a physio – something that will bring me an income and footfall of the type of customers that I am looking for.
- Products – I need to sell £100 an hour – so I need to stock a different range, something that is specific to me, something that people might travel for.
- Services – I need to sell £200 an hour. I can include public health services such as stop smoking and weight management, but I need to expand these.
- Marketing – the customers that I need are not in the Pharmacy. I have to go out and find them, create awareness and draw them in.
When you start thinking about it, it might work. It might have to when the dispensing contract needs to be subsidised by other income and prescription numbers fall.
There is a question to Dr Ridge here. Could a Pharmacy operate under an NHS contract and not dispense NHS prescriptions? Could it opt out or have a restricted and specified element? Would it be able to deliver MURs and NMS services in association with a local GP practice and contract locally for Immunisation, minor ailment, domiciliary MURs and other public health services?
Will some Pharmacies become ‘health and wellbeing hubs’ and will we see new non-dispensing pharmacies opening?