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

Al Patel, Owner, Lee Pharmacy, south east London 

‘The shortages have had an impact on our pharmacy as they have led to poorer levels of service, unnecessary multiple dispensing, wasting time calling suppliers and manufacturers for dates of availability.

‘This is detrimental in the current pharmacy environment, which has already been impacted by the cuts.

‘Our aim is to enable patients to continue taking their medication. We have done this by giving them a small supply – rather than the full quantity – to let them to continue with their treatment until stock availability gets better.

‘We've found this to be a better system of dispensing, as issuing the full supply causes more patients to be without their medication.

‘But this has recently become an issue as patients are running out and are calling in multiple times for more supply. This causes unnecessary workload on all the staff without gaining any business.

‘We often get a list from various wholesalers indicating price increases so we tend to purchase in bulk prior to any price increases.

‘In a few situations, we call the surgery with a recommendation for an alternative. Again, this may cause a problem if a patient has already been through several other tablets and cannot get on with them.

‘Cash flow is a problem too, as we are finding some medicines are being bought at a much higher price than reimbursement, which has resulted in more time processing returns.

‘There is no real solution to cope with the pressures.’

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