Part of The Pharmacist’s series of case studies on how the funding cuts are affecting ordinary pharmacists, a south London contractor contractor explains what effect they are having on his business

Al Patel – owner, Lee Pharmacy, south London

'The impact has been worse than expected. Before the cuts, there were estimates as to how much money would be lost, but we have lots much more than the estimates. Having talked to colleagues, I can see this is widespread.

‘There is no extra cushioning or fall-back, so we are forced to try and cope. The impact has been amplified by the fact that clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) are still streamlining services.

'There is also the stock shortages problem, which has resulted in loss of prescriptions as customers are taking their business elsewhere, again resulting in loss of earnings.

‘Contrary to the speculated loss of 12%, the actual loss we‘ve encountered is 20%. Colleagues report a similar situation.

‘Unfortunately, we do not fall in the pharmacy access scheme. We did benefit from the QPS, but did not hit all the criteria, so we’ll try for the second application point in November.

‘We’ve had two members of staff leaving, one because of retirement and the other with a change in career. We’ve decided not to replace them and have upskilled our existing team members and changed job roles to include more duties to try and cope.

'We’ve also streamlined our deliveries to only those who are housebound, rather than all members of the public. This has been exhausting, as more time has been spent on training while juggling pharmacy duties.

‘Current stock shortage problems are making this situation worse, as we are making numerous calls to try to source medicines. We are also seeing customers coming back repeatedly, trying to collect their medicines, and calling surgeries to try to get a prescription for an alternative.

‘The future looks bleak for community pharmacy. There are numerous job losses and pay cuts and we are starting to see closures.

‘Pharmacists were supposed to be the face of the NHS, and to help reshape care around the patient and various other roles. I feel the NHS needs to rethink its plan, or we will be extinct.’