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Slight climb in pharmacists’ confidence about the future, says Lloyds Bank


Slight climb in pharmacists’ confidence about the future, says Lloyds Bank

Community pharmacists feel somewhat more positive about the future than they did last year, a survey carried out by Lloyds Bank indicates.

The Lloyds Bank Healthcare Confidence Index, published on February 26, found that after two years of falling confidence, pharmacists’ self-reported outlook on the future has risen by 13 points – though at -9, it “remains in negative territory” said Lee Reeves, head of healthcare banking services.

Over half of respondents (53 per cent) described the current programme of primary care reforms as an opportunity for pharmacy, with 31 per cent said they were a threat.

The survey offers mixed messages with regards to pharmacists’ financial outlook over the next 12 months. While 60 per cent said they expect profits to rise this year, three-quarters anticipated financial pressures to increase over the next five year.

Despite the increasing emphasis on clinical services, 49 per cent said they expect prescriptions income will take up an increasing proportion of their overall business in the coming year, due to pharmacy closures leading to more activity for remaining businesses. 

Seventy-six per cent of respondents cited rising drugs bills as a key concern in the next 12 months, closely followed by staffing costs (65 per cent).

Meanwhile, 67 per cent of pharmacists said they would recommend the profession as a career to friends or family members, down from 72 per cent in the last Lloyds index.

Contributing to the report, Leyla Hannbeck chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies (AIMp), said the “strong” public profile of pharmacists is “likely influencing” the fact that. 60 per cent of respondents expect profits to grow this year.

She said the drop in pharmacists planning to acquire a new business “reflects the challenging environment” and that contractors are “choosing to sit tight and weather the current storm”. 

“Locum rates have also soared lately, but we can expect that to stabilise as more pharmacies close and more trainees come through, boosting supply,” said Ms Hannbeck. 

The annual healthcare index also polled dentists, who reported a confidence level of -30 and GPs who reported a confidence level of -20.

Just 15 per cent of GPs expected profits to rise in 2024, with 97 per cent reporting that staffing costs are hurting their practice and 68 per cent anticipating that patient services will get worse over the next five years.

Dentists reported similar concerns, with 82 per cent saying financial pressures will likely worsen in the next five years and 64 per cent believing that NHS services will decline over the same period.

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