Well Pharmacy has exceeded its targeted number of patients signing up to its online NHS prescription service by more than 3,000, The Pharmaceutical Journal has been told.
Ollie Gower, product manager for online pharmacy at Well, the UK’s largest independent pharmacy chain, said the company had forecasted 22,000 sign-ups by 23 January 2019, but this figure had reached 25,184 since the service was launched in July 2018.
The free NHS prescription service allows customers to order their medicines online and have them delivered to their home. It also enables customers to chat with a pharmacist from the online platform.
While the number of registrations is small compared to the 1.5 million customers signed up to Pharmacy2U, the UK’s largest online pharmacy, Gower said a “small scale” launch was Well’s initial plan.
He told The Pharmaceutical Journal: “As a trusted pharmacy chain, we wanted to ensure our process was working smoothly and safely before upscaling, as patient safety is always the number one priority in everything we do.”
Gower added that Well’s online offering moved to a new location in Stoke-on-Trent in October 2018, “enabling us to grow our operations at a faster rate”.
He continued: “Initially, we forecasted 22,000 signs ups by the six-month mark, and therefore 25,184 customers by 23 January 2019 is higher than anticipated, and we are extremely happy with the rate of growth.”
This news comes after it was revealed that Pharmacy2U dispensed an average of nearly 750,000 items every month in 2017/18, more than ten times higher than other high street multiples.
However, Gower said: “Currently, only 2% of NHS prescriptions are fulfilled digitally and although we expect to see this figure rise in coming years, physical pharmacies will always play a vital role in our business and we continually invest in our stores.
“They offer essential services that require face-to-face interactions with a healthcare professional, such as flu jabs.”
Well previously told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the company had no plans to close any of its 794 pharmacies throughout the UK and Northern Ireland, despite data from the Department of Health and Social Care revealing that the number of ‘bricks and mortar’ pharmacies in England dropped by 134 between November 2016 and April 2018.