The Pharmacist September/October 2018 - Page 25

YOUR PHARMACY ‘ Our staff spend hours on the phone sourcing products’ Part of The Pharmacist’s series on how stock shortages are affecting ordinary pharmacists, a Sheffield pharmacy owner explains the impact to Beth Gault arry Myers, managing director at Shires Pharmacies in Sheffield, is also regional representative for the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) for the east Midlands and south Yorkshire. He stresses that all views are his own and not those of PSNC. ‘For us,’ he says, ‘our problems with stock are not just about medicine shortages. One of the biggest problems we have at the moment is the introduction of quotas by the wholesalers. One of the biggest bugbears the staff have is spending hours on the phone and trying to source product. ‘We had a case recently with a particular type of insulin. We have a patient that regularly has 10 bottles of this insulin, and according to the wholesaler, our quota is set at four. ‘So we’re consistently undersupplying this patient. On one instance, we couldn’t get the insulin, and we had to borrow it from another pharmacy – even the n we couldn’t provide all the insulin that the patient had on their prescription. ‘As for generic shortages, we were having massive problems with one drug that was a price concession line but we couldn’t buy it for the price that’s quoted. ‘So, for some price concessions we’re actually making a loss. We’re having to buy stuff without having our costs being reimbursed by the Government. G ‘To my knowledge, we haven’t actually turned away any patients on that basis. But I have heard stories of other pharmacies turning patients away because they can’t get the product at the price the NHS is willing to pay. ‘We’ve noticed we’ve ended up having patients pitching up for stuff that they’ve said they can’t get anywhere else. ‘In some instances, it’s not just about medicine shortages, it’s about the time involved. ‘It seems that some pharmacies are turning people away for prescriptions for things like hosiery items that are made to measure, some hernia belts and things like that. ‘Pharmacies tend to turn patients away Join the fight As part of our #WarOnShortages campaign, The Pharmacist has put together a kit with all the tools you need to manage the issue – including a patient information leaflet and a template email to local GPs informing them of the latest shortages and suggesting alternatives. Visit thepharmacist. waronshortages-toolkit/ for the full toolkit and tips on how to use it. because they’re not prepared to spend the time dealing with the patients concerned. So we’ve been seeing those patients who can’t get their prescriptions elsewhere. We seem to be getting more of these situations where costs aren’t met or the patients are quite time consuming to deal with. ‘We’ve worked really hard and taken a pay cut and I’ve cashed in my pension to avoid cutting services, but I know that other pharmacies have don’t have that luxury and are looking at other ways and means of saving money. ‘When you know something’s going to take you half an hour and the NHS is not going to cover the costs, why would you bother? ‘I have sympathy for pharmacies who say they can’t do that. ‘If the Government wants community pharmacies to continue to supply medicines to the public, they need to urgently invest in the network and make sure that all community pharmacists are properly resourced to be able to effectively weather the storms that are coming with Brexit and the falsified medicines directive (FMD). ‘If they want us to be able to keep patients away from A&E and general practice, we can’t if we run out of money. ‘For all those reasons, the health secretary Matt Hancock needs to honour his word and start investing more money in the sector.’ Beth Gault is a freelance journalist September/October 2018 | The Pharmacist | 25