Part of The Pharmacist’s series of case studies on how stock shortages are affecting ordinary pharmacists, a Blackburn pharmacist who owns two pharmacies explains what impact they are having on her business

Moonira Hinglotwala – pharmacist and director of Riaz Pharmacy and Granville Road Pharmacy, Blackburn

Medicine shortages have had an impact because patients want their medications on the same day and our core supplier is always holding products due to restrictions. Obviously if we can’t provide medications to patients, they suffer in the end.

‘I’d say we have probably lost about a good 10% of our turnover for the whole business. Both pharmacies work together, as one. Even though they are in two different areas, we try to communicate and share to reduce losses if we can.

‘So coupled with the funding cut, that’s a 30% loss altogether. It does make things tight and that’s why it’s so difficult, with the way things are going with pharmacy, to make a business viable.

‘We do have a number of different suppliers and try to go directly to them. If there is a restricted drug and it’s expensive, then we will make an effort and pay for the medication.

‘We’re happy to do that out of our pocket because we want to give that service. It’s not just about money for us maybe because we are a family-based business, husband and wife, and independent and small. Our focus is on patient care.

‘At the end of the day, it’s more important for us that the drug and service are there for the patient than the money or the loss we are making. Patients will be appreciative, and we’ll have patient loyalty.

‘Last year, we spent a lot of time on the phone chasing up medicine queries. It’s not just taking the staff time but the driver’s as well so we’re paying back hours and it’s more expenses to deal with.

‘I actually employ one member of staff from 9am to 3pm sorting queries out on the telephone because it’s very difficult. Before, they were just doing the pharmacy helping as a dispenser but I realised we needed somebody to deal with shortage queries and that kind of things to make the business more successful and have continuity in patient care.

‘So I would probably say a full time wage, about 30 to 40 hours a week just spent on queries.’

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