Just 7% of pharmacies in England are profitable, says PSNC
Ninety-six per cent of pharmacies in England are battling “significantly higher costs” than last year, a “devastating” new PSNC survey shows.
The Pharmacy Pressures survey of over 6,200 pharmacies and 2,000 staff members indicates that unreimbursed medicines costs, wage increases and rising utility costs are all contributing to unsustainable financial pressures, with just seven per cent describing their business as profitable.
Seventy-three per cent said they “didn’t know how much longer the threats to their business could be managed,” while 16 per cent said their business could not survive another year under the present conditions.
“These results make clear that the community pharmacy sector is at a tipping point with many businesses now at risk of collapse,” said the PSNC.
Medicines supply issues appear to be increasingly acute, with 92 per cent of pharmacies experiencing this “every day” – up from 67 per cent in last year’s survey – and 93 per cent spending “longer than ever before” on procuring medicines, with the average staff time spent sourcing medicines more than doubling to 11 hours a week.
Meanwhile, 76 per cent of staff members said their pharmacy was experiencing workforce shortages and 19 per cent of owners said they had been forced to close the pharmacy temporarily due to staffing issues. The PSNC said its findings show that in one month 5,859 hours were lost to temporary closures across the sector.
The combination of financial and staffing pressures and rising workload – 92 per cent of respondents said patients had been “displaced” to their pharmacy from a GP surgery – is having an impact on patient care, the survey indicates, with 41 per cent of contractors “extremely worried about their ability to help patients”.
Eighty-one per cent said they were forced to spend less time with patients than before due to these pressures, while 57 per cent said the provision of advanced pharmacy services had been affected and 48 per cent said locally commissioned services had been disrupted.
Four-fifths of pharmacy staff said they are “struggling to cope” with rising workload, while 78 per cent reported a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
PSNC chief executive Janet Morrison said the survey “paints a devastating picture of staff under unbearable pressures and businesses struggling to cope”.
“This year’s survey clearly shows that community pharmacies are buckling under growing cost and capacity pressures - the consequences should they be allowed to collapse are unthinkable,” Ms Morrison said, adding that extra funding is “needed without delay” to maintain patients’ access to medicines and pharmacy services.
She said the findings would form an important part of the PSNC’s campaigning work, and described a Pharmacy First minor ailments service as the sector’s “best chance for getting significant additional funds”.
- Click here for a Channel 4 News report on pharmacy's funding crisis, broadcast on April 12.