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Independent pharmacies losing money and cutting back services


Independent pharmacies losing money and cutting back services

By Neil Trainis

Most independent pharmacies in England lost money dispensing medicines for the NHS last year and many revealed they reduced their opening hours and number of staff to cope, according to a study by the National Pharmacy Association.

Over 90 per cent of the 222 independent pharmacy owners and senior managers who responded to the online survey last month made a net loss for one month during 2022 while 48 per cent suffered a loss for six months of the year.

The study also found that 93 per cent of owners endured at least one month of “negative cashflow” across their business and 45 per cent said “overall outgoings exceeded overall income” over six months.

The study also revealed potentially worrying consequences for patients’ health and wellbeing. More than a third of owners said they had reduced their opening hours, 59 per cent reduced staffing, 38 per cent limited or stopped some NHS services and 59 per cent curtailed or stopped services that were previously free such as home deliveries or started charging for them.

Forty per cent increased their bank borrowing just to continue trading while 20 per cent asked their family for financial help.

NPA chair Andrew Lane said the study lifted the lid on “the bleak financial reality facing many independent pharmacies after years of underfunding.”

“Dispensing at a loss and negative cashflow is clearly unsustainable. This funding crisis must be addressed urgently or pharmacies will fall into a spiral of declining services and ultimately widespread closures,” he said.

“Tragically, the story is playing out very much in line with independent research commissioned by the NPA last year, which warned of a nationwide financial emergency in our sector.”

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