The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) says community pharmacy contractors could consider requesting their landlords for a temporary rent-free period to help ease the financial pressure on them during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“One of our members has tried this and was offered a three-month rent-free period,” the NPA said in a communication on Monday (Jan 18).
The pharmacy membership body suggests contractors should highlight the fact that the their pharmacies are under enormous pressure as they step up to keep Britain healthy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and that their teams are putting themselves at risk every day, in a premises where maintaining social distancing is difficult
If contractors did decide to write to their landlords, the NPA suggests they should also include how:
“In the pandemic, especially in lockdowns, there has been a massive rise in patient demand, together with increases in wholesale medicine costs, squeezing margins to zero, or even a deficit to the price of reimbursement by the government, in many cases.”
And that they “have also incurred significant increases in the costs of staffing, safety and security, and providing free delivery services to the community, as patients and residents self-isolate.”
NPA said there is a also need to remind landowners that during the pandemic, especially in lockdowns, there has been a massive rise in patient demand, together with increases in wholesale medicine costs, squeezing margins, or even a deficit to the price of reimbursement by the government.
The communication ended with the stark warning from a recent independent study by EY which found that pharmacies are under-funded to the tune of £497m – with 72 per cent forecast to be loss-making within four years if the current contractual arrangements carry on unchanged. The report estimates that the average pharmacy will be making an annual loss of £43k by 2024.
“Representations for better funding are being made to government and the NHS for fair funding, but this has yet to be rectified,” the NPA said.