Day Lewis Pharmacy is piloting a two-pharmacist model within its pharmacies in a bid to win services.
In September 2014, the company recruited 12 “professional service pharmacists” from its pre-registration cohort who will support pharmacists already employed by Day Lewis. The second pharmacists will help deliver standard pharmacy services, such as dispensing, medicines use reviews, the new medicine service and smoking cessation services, supporting the pharmacy to win new service contracts from the NHS.
“The time has come when we seriously [need to] consider having a second pharmacist covering at least some days of the week to free up the main pharmacist’s time to commission services,” says Kirit Patel, the founder and chief executive of Day Lewis, which has more than 220 pharmacies in the UK. He has called on these pharmacists to “go out and support my other pharmacists, and prove that you can give 130% of your salary”.
The company plans to take on 13 more pharmacists in this role next year. The pilot will see the second pharmacist coming into a pharmacy 20–25% of the time, enabling the other pharmacist to offer more services.
Asked if there should be a minimum of two pharmacists in each pharmacy, he said the NHS budget does not allow that to happen. “Ideally, yes, put the funding in place and let’s have two pharmacists in a shop, where we can generally provide all the services that the NHS wants us to provide,” Patel says. “But there has to be money on the table first. We can’t keep on investing in staff. At Day Lewis we are piloting a hybrid model; [instead of relief pharmacists, we have] professional service pharmacists whose role is to drive extra services.”
Patel argues that there is a corporate social responsibility on employers to create jobs for newly qualified pharmacists as “locum demand is less”.
Asked if the oversupply of pharmacists in the market is affecting his business model, he said that he was not against excess supply. “If you want to drive quality up, then it is better to have more pharmacists than a shortage of pharmacists,” he says. “We mustn’t forget that a few years ago, we just couldn’t get managers, we had to rely on different locums to run our pharmacies. You can’t build a sustainable model of running a business completely with locums.”
He also believes that newly qualified pharmacists are better equipped for the role and are “100% better” compared with ten years ago. This is down to competition within the labour market, Patel argues.
“We have to have differentiation,” he says. “The [degree] certificate is not good enough. What else are you going to do? They come back with an accreditation for medicines use reviews, the new medicine service; with extra value added.”