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Half of independents may use hub and spoke, government predicts

Between 25 and 50 per cent of independent pharmacies will be using hub and spoke dispensing models within three years of legislation being enacted to allow them to do so, according to government estimates. It also estimates that 45 per cent of all medicines will be dispensed via hub and spoke models and labour savings will be made because hubs will be up to four times as efficient as spokes.

The Department of Health and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have made these assumptions in their consultation on proposed changes to the Human Medicines Regulations and the Medicines Act that will enable independents to operate hub and spoke systems.

The consultation also assumes that if 60 per cent of medicines were dispensed through hub and spoke models, it would lead to a:

  • 10 per cent reduction in pharmacist labour costs at spoke pharmacies
  • 25 per cent reduction in pharmacy technician labour costs at spoke pharmacies
  • 2.5 – 5 per cent increase in pharmacist labour costs at hubs
  • 6.25 –12.5 per cent increase in pharmacy technician labour costs at hubs.

Potential labour savings would be the same (as a proportion) for independents, small multiples, and large multiples, assumes the consultation, even though it recognises that if a pharmacy only has one pharmacist, reducing pharmacist costs is not possible.

Some hub capacity would be provided by large, automated, purpose-built hubs, and some by smaller pharmacies collaborating to provide their own hub.

A new hub, costing £5 million to build, could serve an average of 250 spoke pharmacies, while a large £20m hub could serve an average of 1,500 spokes. A collaborative hub would not require additional capital except for the introduction
of automation, the consultation assumes.

The consultation run from March 22 to May 17.


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