Over 80% of pharmacists are expecting financial pressures to increase in the long term, a survey has revealed.

Research carried out by Lloyds Bank commercial banking showed that optimism among 105 pharmacists surveyed remains low, with 84% still expecting increasing financial pressures in the next five years.

Overall, on a scale from -100 to 100, pharmacists’ confidence increased from -41 to -23 compared with the previous year.

The Pharmacy Consultancy Limited managing director Kevin Nichols said that confidence fell for the first time last year in the history of the index following the ‘major shock’ caused by the Government’s cuts to community pharmacy funding.

The annual survey comes after the Government imposed a £208m funding cut package to community pharmacy between 2016 and 2018.

‘Wake-up call’

Mr Nichols continued: ‘It was a wake-up call for the industry, which I’m pleased to say has stepped up to the challenge, with pharmacists realising they need to look for every opportunity in their business.’

The survey carried out between November 2017 and January 2018 – showed that 70% of the respondents expect to reach their full Medicine Usage Review (MUR) quota this year, while nearly half believe their profits will increase in the next year.

Working together

Mr Nichols argued that a lot more pharmacies are now engaging with their local GP surgeries to work more smartly together, including forming joint ventures.

He said: ‘An increasing number of pharmacists want to grow by acquiring additional pharmacies or setting up new sites, and the trade in pharmacies is certainly proving very robust, as are their values, because opportunities to buy are limited and it can be very difficult to acquire a new pharmacy contract.’

The survey also showed that there is no prevailing view as to whether NHS services will improve over the next five years, which might be due to pharmacists feeling a little ‘left out from the wider debate over services, which has fostered a slightly cynical outlook’, said Mr Nicholls.

The survey results can be accessed here.