Independent pharmacist, Nirmal Bajaria, speaks out in this video by Pharmacy Talk about the impact on his business, staff and patients.
I wrote a blog post about the pharmacy cuts when they were announced in December 2015 which you can read here . The pharmacist at the pharmacy I use as a patient explained to me that he had already cut back on the businesses outgoings as much as possible due to the double-dip recession, so when the pharmacy cuts were announced he sold up to a small chain of pharmacies. Although this meant there would still be a pharmacy, the pharmacist who owned it was well known and respected in the local community, and he was an inspiration to me so it was sad to see him have to sell up.
During the selling process he cut back on prescription deliveries to only 2 days a week, as this is one of the many services pharmacies provide that are not reimbursed by the NHS, even though housebound patients depend upon it. The pharmacy has to pay the delivery driver’s wages and costs for the vehicle out-of-pocket.
Nirmal has run his own pharmacy business in Gravesend for 32 years. In the video (11 mins 30 secs) he explains how the sum received from the NHS since the cuts was even less than he had been told, and the cut-backs he’d already made on things like stock levels, were not enough to break even for that period, so he had to borrow from the bank for the first time in the his business’ history in order to pay suppliers.
After further cut-backs on staff hours and restricting deliveries to only once a month for each patient, Nirmal is now having to consider charging for all deliveries but patients are likely to go elsewhere, which will also harm the business. The large multiple pharmacies are able to absorb these costs, whereas independent pharmacies can’t. Nirmal’s great sadness about the situation really comes across as he tells us that the reimbursement from the NHS just doesn’t cover costs now, so for the first time in over three decades his pharmacy is no longer sustainable in the long term.