Part of The Pharmacist’s series of case studies on how the funding cuts are affecting ordinary pharmacists, a Staffordshire contractor contractor explains what effect they are having on his business
Kieran Eason – 0wner, Eason pharmacy, Tamworth, Staffordshire
‘The funding cut has been significantly worse than expected. We’ve also had the category M clawback. We have a lot of branded generics and are being reimbursed less money for items we didn’t get a higher profit for in the first place. Also, our local surgeries are increasing their prescription durations.
‘We had a member of staff who left and I decided not to replace her. We have also restricted our delivery service, reduced locum hours, cut overtime and reduced some of our other service levels to cope.
‘However, I have worked on engaging the staff more in services and have achieved all of the criteria for the Quality Payments Scheme (QPS). But locally commissioned services are generally being cut and, even when they are not, they don’t pay that well for the time involved.
‘As a sole contractor, I have been making up the workload in my own time by increasing my hours in the pharmacy. I’m not sure how sustainable that will be.
‘When the cuts were originally announced, we were told we should be using technology to make our business more efficient. We already use every bit of technology available.
‘We have an advanced patient medication record (PMR), we send text messages to patients, we have a barcoded prescription location system, an electronic controlled drug register, electronic prescription book, error log and a standard operating procedures register.
‘The only thing left is to use a dispensing robot. Installing a robot and training two more accuracy checking technicians would enable us to streamline the dispensary workload to enable us to spend more time on services and patients. As a direct result of the cuts, we now have to consider that. The whole thing is both frustrating and very stressful.
‘We are not in the Pharmacy Access Scheme but we have achieved all of the QPS criteria. However, these seem to be more of an exercise in box-ticking and weighted in favour of the multiples. The paperwork was heavy and not actually about quality at all.
‘I’m not really confident about the future.’