In UK, as in many other countries, government funding for community pharmacy has been capped over the next five years: taking in consideration the rising costs, inflation and new services to be provided it means a reduction in funding. Both independent and multiple stated that direct consequence of the funding austerity facing already from a few years will bring pharmacies closure or reduction in services to patients. In England Government has been asked to invest in community pharmacy, following its pledge to allocate £ 33.9 billion for the NHS by 2023/24. It is not clear if it will happen and if the financial situation for UK pharmacies will improve or at least don’t be worse and worse.
At the moment we can say that funding austerity is a very easy and popular policy governments are taking all over Europe, and in other continents as well.
Some multiples are already changing their strategies in order to compensate the reduction in funding by closing the low performing branches. In UK Rowlands announced in February 2019 it had put 70 branches up for sale, but a few months later it withdrew 12 from the market as it deemed them to be part of an exciting transformation plans.
So from one side we can find easy answers as pharmacy closure but from the other side smart players are working for finding alternative and more interesting solutions.
On March 10 the Royal Dutch Association will have a congress in Utrecht were operators will talk about challenges and opportunities for today pharmacy. Pharma Robots BV will talk with Dutch pharmacists about a concept that is already successfully working by over 300 pharmacy: PHARMASELF24. Over 4 Million prescriptions have been dispensed by Pharmaself24 in Holland allowing pharmacy to achieve cost reductions and improving service to patient. But costs reduction and reduced patients’ waiting time are not the only goal achieved by Dutch pharmacies.
The dispensing of a prescription is the last ring of a long chain, but it’s a last step that can affect the efficiency of the entire process. The way a pharmacy chooses to handle it, has direct impact in the entire work and economy of a pharmacy. So understanding the policies, challenges and solutions adopted for delivering the parcels is a key point for finding solutions, improvements and reaching efficiency. In Holland some pharmacies are doing this from a while and some of them already reached their goal. Some independents but also some groups did change their branches and the way they worked making automation as key of their success. Pharma Robots will bring all those experiences at KNMP congress and will share with many Dutch pharmacies the results already reached in over 300 pharmacies.
At this point Holland is for sure from organization and efficiency point of view the most advanced pharmacy industry in the world. So if funding austerity is unfortunately a common policy in the advanced countries, Dutch pharmacy is showing the way for facing such a tough challenge.