The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and some independent pharmacy owners have invested a total of £1.2m into a pharmacy app which is designed to lessen operational burdens for independent community pharmacies.

The cash injection into Charac, which allows pharmacists to manage repeat prescriptions, access patient records, create bookings and conduct consultations, aims to help ‘enhance’ the app and the services it offers, the NPA has said.

Charac told The Pharmacist that the NPA provided the ‘majority’ of the £1.2m investment, but it could not provide an exact breakdown between that given by the organisation and separate pharmacy owners.

The move comes after a long-term partnership was formed between the NPA and Charac in 2022.

More than 400 pharmacies are using the app and forecasts from its creators predict this will increase to 2,000 in 2024. Meanwhile, there are around 25,000 patients using the platform, with predictions suggesting this will rise to 100,000 by March 2024.

Director of membership at the NPA, Simon Tebbutt, said: ‘Our aim is to help independents become more than a match for the national pharmacy chains in terms of their digital interface with patients.

‘Together, NPA, pharmacy owners and Charac will ensure that independent pharmacies can meet modern consumer expectations and adapt to the ever-evolving environment.’

The backing from the NPA follows a £1m investment from Royal Mail.

Charac founder Santosh Sahu said the platform aimed to help ‘significantly improve the health of community pharmacies and enable them to play the larger role that is expected of them’ amid the incoming Pharmacy First service in England.

He said currently many pharmacies were ‘focusing more on survival’ and would ‘struggle to fulfil the new expanded role planned for them by the government’.

Responding to the funding from the NPA and Royal Mail, Mr Sahu added: ‘Prioritising these types of partnerships and integrations across the NHS ecosystem is critical to delivering better healthcare for all.

‘Digitalisation is a key step towards providing both pharmacists and patients with more resources, control and efficiency when it comes to managing healthcare.’