Shafiq Mohamedtaqi, pharmacist and co-owner at New Milton Pharmacy in Hampshire, talks to Saša Janković about his late delivery service.

Service type: Late delivery service

Name and location of pharmacy: New Milton Pharmacy, Hampshire

Name of pharmacist: Shafiq Mohamedtaqi

When did you start offering this service?

We started the pharmacy from scratch in 2014 and offered a delivery service from the start, but expanded it into a late delivery service in 2016.

Why did you start offering this service?

We all brainstormed and thought what would be really beneficial for patients as well as help us work even more closely with GPs. We observed that a lot of the time prescriptions turned up next day with a note saying ‘please deliver today’, so we thought a late delivery service could help address this, especially as acute medications need to go out the same day.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

There is a cost – and we did have to recruit another driver – but we are happy to pay as it’s so beneficial to patients and GPs.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

Our original delivery request cut-off time was 5pm, so we increased it to 7.30pm as some GPs run a late night clinic every day of the week at one of the surgeries, and our drivers deliver until 8pm.

We sent a personalised email to all four main local surgeries, and some outside the area, to let them know we can do this for them. Customers can also make individual requests for a delivery on the same day.

Patients may be able to go into the surgery to see a GP again, but prescriptions are still sent electronically, and since Covid there are now a lot more consultations done over the phone or video, so this enables the GP to send a prescription to us and know it will go out the same day.

How have patients responded to the service?

They are delighted that their medicines turn up so quickly, and they always thank us.

Our drivers can also report back concerns with patients, and there have been times we've had to intervene. For example, we had one patient who would return a bunch of medication trays with untaken medication every time we delivered to her. I raised this with her surgery and the doctors discussed it at their MDT meeting. They realised she has severe dementia that had been missed, so that ended getting diagnosed because the driver noticed it. And that's just one story.

Roughly how often each month do you carry out the service?

On a daily basis it has added at least 40% more into our delivery schedule, but our drivers use delivery software on their smartphones that helps them deliver efficiently.

How much do you charge for the service?

There is no charge to the customer.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

The learnings from this have opened our eyes to how burdened the NHS can be sometimes and how much the patients can suffer, so to be able to go out there and help our patients is hugely satisfying. Patients really struggle to get into their GP for an appointment, and then you get the domino effect of them struggling to get into the pharmacy.

Lots of pharmacies have started charging for deliveries and I won’t be surprised if most, if not all, go that way. If the government could start thinking about financing the service it would be amazing as it is very costly, and then more pharmacists would think of taking it up.