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

Mike Hewitson, superintendent pharmacist, Beaminster Pharmacy, Dorset

‘In September [2017] alone, I calculated that the cost of the concessionary line based on my dispensing workload resulted in a £3,500 cost increase for one of our branches.

‘If we were representative, that could be as much as £40m for the whole country in that month. 
It’s a huge number. With funding being so tight, pharmacy can’t afford to sustain those losses for very long.

‘We’re using five or seven wholesalers a day. Independent pharmacies have more flexibility in terms of where they can buy products from, as larger pharmacies can only buy from 
their wholesaler.

‘We use an electronic purchasing cascade, but the problem at the moment is that those technologies seem not to be keeping pace with the changes in the market.

‘We constantly have to check the prices on the computer but also the prices on the invoice because sometimes the two don’t match up. It creates huge workload problems.

‘Shortages are also creating pressure on concessions. The problem is that sometimes concessionary prices don’t tally with market prices. It’s the law of supply and demand.

‘That’s the problem of living in the global market for a long time. It’s a double-edged sword: it’s 
been a real benefit to us but it’s currently causing problems.

‘Our funding has collapsed. At the moment, pharmacies are buying in the dark, with no idea if they’re going to get paid for the medicine or make a loss on it.

‘It’s a very scary place for pharmacists to be.’

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