Rowlands Pharmacy has announced it is to provide free home deliveries of medicines to housebound patients only, saying it “can no longer provide an expensive convenient service which the NHS is not willing to pay for”.

The community pharmacy multiple, which is the fourth largest chain in the UK, said it was “relaunching” its free home delivery service to focus on offering housebound patients a “priority service”. The new, streamlined service would also mean fewer missed deliveries and a reduced carbon footprint, the company suggested.

Rowlands Pharmacy managing director, Kenny Black, said: “At a time when community pharmacy is facing unprecedented financial pressures,” the company “cannot continue to offer a free home delivery service for all; we can no longer provide an expensive convenient service that the NHS is not willing to pay for.”

Black said the company realised this would “disappoint some patients,” but said he hoped they would “recognise that our priority has to be supporting the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Mr Black said the decision “also reinforces the message that your local pharmacy is not simply a place to pick up your prescription; rather a place you visit in order to seek support and advice about taking your medication, healthy living and appropriate self-care.

“On a daily basis, we refer people who come into our pharmacies to their GP or even A&E when we identify risk factors that those individuals may not be aware of. The value of that face to face interaction in the pharmacy should not be underestimated in terms of the patient care and the outcomes it delivers.”

Questions for Rowlands

Pharmacy Magazine has asked Rowlands Pharmacy to comment on: how their pharmacists will assess whether patients are housebound; how the company will support pharmacists in making this judgment; how many non-housebound patients currently receive free deliveries; and whether the company is concerned that some patients may take their prescription business elsewhere.

A spokesperson told PM the company was not in a position to comment at this stage “due to commercial considerations” but that there would be an update “in due course”.

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