Fears for community pharmacies in Norfolk amid staff shortages

6:00 PM March 26, 2022

Community chemists will be forced to have stricter opening hours and in some cases close completely if they don’t receive more support, a leading pharmacist has warned.

The importance of local pharmacies has been further emphasized during the pandemic as one of the main sources of face-to-face medical support, even at the height of the lockdown.

But Tony Dean, chief executive of Norfolk’s local pharmaceutical committee, warned that inequalities in government support and staff shortages have put “tremendous pressure” on community pharmacies.

He warned that already some had to offer under increasingly limited opening hours and could even face closures.

File photo dated 16/11/09 of a pharmacist stocking shelves in a pharmacy as half of patients do not know the potential side effects of drugs before they start taking them, figures show. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday May 16, 2013 Medications can produce unwanted symptoms, but a new survey has found that only 49% of people are ‘usually’ aware of a medication’s side effects before they start using it. The poll, conducted among 2,000 UK adults on behalf of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), also found that only two in five people read the patient information leaflet included in the medicine packet. See PA story HEALTH Drugs. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
– Credit: PA

He said: “We have a real shortage of pharmacists in the east of England – and Norfolk is the worst for this in the region.

“We are entering the fourth year of a six-year contract to which we are bound, which fixes the amount that community pharmacists are paid [Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework]

“But in real terms, we’ve had big cost increases, which has caused some pharmacies to close and some have had to make tough decisions about opening hours.”

Mr Dean said it has also made it more difficult to recruit from community pharmacies – as newly qualified chemists choose to work in primary care networks or doctor’s offices because they can earn more for working in these areas, despite the many use the same skills.

He said: ‘Community pharmacists have been and continue to be under immense pressure and I think they’ve done an amazing job – it’s time they were much better appreciated by this government.’

Meanwhile, Maziar Moaddabi, superintendent pharmacist at Vauxhall Street Pharmacy in Norwich, said rising costs for some medicines are costing his business hundreds of pounds every month.

The pharmacy obtains all of its medicines through wholesalers and, at the end of each month, receives grants from NHS England to help cover the costs.

Maziar Moaddabi, owner of Vauxhall Street Pharmacy in Norwich

Maziar Moadabbi, of Vauxhall Street Pharmacy in Norwich
– Credit: Neil Didsbury

But Mr Moaddabi said the cost of the drugs was increasingly exceeding the amount the NHS pays for them, which is set by the CPCF – meaning some products are ordered at a loss.

He said these include certain antidepressants, hormone replacement products and several types of formula.

He said: “Some wholesalers have increased some prices by 20 per cent and although the option is there to add that to the price at which we sell, I just can’t do that to my customers.

“To me, it doesn’t seem particularly ethical not to order certain things that people need, so we have no choice but to waste money on them.”

He said he sometimes receives extra funding from the NHS to fill in the gaps.

He added: “We’ve been losing money for over a year now and all I can really do is hope for the best.

“I don’t feel like there’s much to do about it – everything is getting more and more expensive.”

Mr Dean said the way chemists are subsidized for their order is incredibly complex and can leave small pharma companies feeling uneasy.

He said: “The system works most of the time, but it can often be quite slow – that’s what bothers some pharmacists.

“There’s not a lot of confidence that it’s working fast enough for businesses to suffer short-term losses – and that’s what people may feel aggrieved about.”

Meanwhile, mental health campaigners have warned that pharmacy closures will have “catastrophic” consequences for people who rely on them for lifesaving medicines.

A member of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk said: ‘Many people with mental health conditions have to seek medication frequently – sometimes daily.’ If pharmacies close people will have to travel further and wait even longer to be taken care of. served.

“People who are already ill will have to endure even more stress and anxiety, which will cause their health to deteriorate further.”