While prescription volumes have rocketed, the number of pharmacies has declined considerably
Speaking at the SIGMA Conference 2023, Dr Leyla Hannbeck, CEO of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), spoke about the increasing number of prescriptions, lack of funding and other existing challenges.
Leyla explained how the pharmacy sector is facing immense challenges which are disrupting the delivery of services as well as impacting its growth.
She further spoke about the hub and spoke model, and how it is unable to solve the issues.
“Community pharmacies are clogged with prescription volume, and this is preventing them from supporting the wider NHS as well as offering services,” she said.
She said that the prescription volumes have rocketed, while the number of pharmacies in England has declined from 11, 522 in the year 2021-22 to 11, 414 in 2022-23.
When it comes to Company Chemists’ Association (CCA) pharmacies, there has been a loss of 1055 branches from 2022 to 2023.
It showed how funding has reduced from 2015 to 2023, and the prescription levels have risen since the pandemic.
Therefore, the community pharmacy network is unable to move its focus away from dispensing into NHS supporting services.
She said: “Even though the volume is centralised to hub and spoke, yet the space fills back-up without resource to grow.”
The CEO highlighted another challenge that community pharmacies are facing is to “dispense what is on the prescription”.
“We’ve got no way of changing prescriptions without having to go back to the doctor and request for sufficient to supply for branded generics.
“And the quantities requiring split packs again, while with some improvements, it is still somewhat long way to go. And most hub and spoke contractors leave splits at branches due to operational issues,” she added.
Leyla further said: “This limits their ability to centralise volume as prescription volume grows and it will become more of an issue.”
She emphasised that AIMp is requesting the government to “minimize bureaucratic and regulatory burdens and take on the prejudice within the cultural landscape that currently exist and have existed for far too long.”