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Safeguarding the Future of Community Pharmacies

Safeguarding the Future of Community Pharmacies
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Sector News

Local pharmacies could play an important role in delivering healthcare services – but first, they need to put their finances back on a sound footing. Find out how Traditum’s strategy is helping the sector to improve efficiency.

With growing demands on the NHS, the government hopes that expanding the role of community pharmacies could help relieve the pressure.

Under the Department for Health & Social Care Pharmacy First scheme, which came into force in January 2024, they can now assess and treat patients for common conditions including sinusitis, sore throat, shingles, earache, infected insect bites and impetigo.

However, the launch of the new scheme comes at a time when independent pharmacies are facing a crisis of their own. According to figures from the Company Chemists’ Association, in the year to November 2023, pharmacies were closing at a rate of eight per week in England and there were over 1,000 fewer pharmacies than in 2015.

The association blames a lack of funding, with an average funding blackhole of over £67,000 for each pharmacy in England, a growing workload and competition for staff from the NHS primary care networks. Indeed, while pharmacists rely on government funding for medicines and services, according to the British Medical Association the freeze in funding under the current five-year framework amounts to a 30% cut in real terms.

While the government has announced a £645m investment in community pharmacies over a two-year period, it remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient to resolve the sector’s financial woes.

Regardless of the funding arrangements, there is widespread agreement that one thing that could help relieve the pressure on pharmacies is improving efficiency through the use of new technology. According to a report by EY, digitisation could not only tackle cost pressures but also enhance the customer experience and free up time for patient care.

Traditum’s latest healthcare investment is designed to achieve this goal. Charac has developed an online platform that enables pharmacies to manage repeat prescriptions, access patient records, create bookings and conduct remote consultations. Effectively it helps them streamline their operations and boost the take-up of their services.

The company has already signed up 800 pharmacies with 36,000 patients in the UK and is rapidly gaining traction overseas. It has also attracted funding from the National Pharmacy Association and pharmacy owners, further bolstering its credentials.

Traditum’s investment will enable it to enhance its technology and accelerate its growth and is in line with our strategy to invest in digital technology that can enhance the delivery of primary and secondary care for the benefit of the community and NHS.

This is the second initiative by Traditum in the pharmacy sector. In 2023 we facilitated a £3m investment led by Traditum clients into HubRx, a Leeds company that is creating the UK’s first automated dispensing hub for independent pharmacies.

The hub would enable smaller pharmacies to improve efficiency by outsourcing part of the dispensing process. Many of the larger pharmacy chains have already adopted this type of ‘hub and spoke’ model but smaller pharmacies have been unable to do so for legal reasons, though the government is now planning to change the law to level the playing field.

With an ageing population and growing demand pressure on the NHS, independent pharmacies could play a key role in providing access to healthcare and relieving pressure on the NHS. Through our investment strategy and our actions, Traditum aims to safeguard their future to enable them to do just that.

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0113 5431446
Leeds Office
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