Majority of pharmacy owners report significant spike in medicine supply problems

The "distressing" Pharmacy Services Negotiating Committee survey results also reveal that temporary closures caused by staff shortages equated to more than 844 days of closures.

Eight in ten pharmacy contractors have reported a “significant increase” in medicine supply problems over the past year, a survey by the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) has found.

The survey results, published on 25 April 2022, also revealed that pharmacy teams are spending an average of 5.3 hours per week resolving supply issues, while more than half (51%) of pharmacy team members said that patients are being negatively affected by supply issues on a daily basis.

The PSNC conducted the two surveys in January 2022, which received views from 418 pharmacy contractors and 1,132 pharmacy team members in England, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and counter assistants, on the pressures facing the community pharmacy sector over the previous year.

Overall, 92% of respondents said that patients were being negatively affected by the pressures on their pharmacy, with 67% of pharmacy team members stating that they were forced to reduce the services they offer as a result.

These pressures include a growing number of medicines supply issues, with 67% of pharmacy team members saying that they deal with these issues on a daily basis, while 75% of team members reported experiencing abuse from patients because of these issues.

Meanwhile, 83% of pharmacy contractors reported “their business had experienced a significant increase in supply chain/medicines delivery issues”.

The survey results also revealed that 91% of contractors and 82% of pharmacy team members “said their pharmacies were experiencing staff shortages”.

The PSNC noted that temporary closures caused by staff shortages equated to 844.2 days of closures over the past year, with 78% of pharmacy staff saying they were required to work extra hours because of shortages.

Janet Morrison, chief executive officer of the PSNC, said the survey results “make distressing reading”.

“We must take these findings as the warning signal that they are: the pressures on community pharmacies — coming from a combination of workload, workforce and financial factors — are simply unreasonable and unsustainable,” she said.

“Millions of people rely on their local pharmacies every day, and it is imperative both for them and for the wider NHS that this does not fail: to guard against that, NHS England and the government must take heed of these findings and work with us to urgently address the causes.

“Without this extra support, patients and the public can expect to see an end to some of the pharmacy services that they have come to know and value.”

In February 2022, the PSNC entered into negotiations with the government over year four of the five-year ‘Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework: 2019 to 2024’.

However, in March 2022, Morrison told The Pharmaceutical Journal that community pharmacy contractors in England may need to “pause” provision of advanced services to manage capacity and demand.

Read more: Proportion of pharmacists reporting high stress levels doubles in 2021, finds survey

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2022, Vol 308, No 7960;308(7960)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2022.1.140190

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