A huge 84% of pharmacists in the UK have reported an increased demand for the home delivery of medication in the last year, revealing the scale of the pressure on pharmacy businesses to offer retail-style convenience, according to new research published today by CitySprint Healthcare.
But despite appetite for the service skyrocketing, well over half (57%) of pharmacists in the UK are either unclear about legislation surrounding the delivery of medicines to patients’ homes, or are not aware of whether there is legislation at all. This suggests there is still work to be done to make guidance clear and accessible – and ensure it is implemented.
The research reveals that more than three-quarters of pharmacies (rising to 91% for those in independent pharmacies) now offer home deliveries. This is adding to an already heavy workload; on average, pharmacy staff spend 11 hours a week managing deliveries, with those in independent pharmacies investing even more – 13 hours - of their time.
In a third of cases it is pharmacists themselves, rather than other on-site staff, who are forced to spend their time on logistics management, despite facing pressure to evolve pharmacies and expand business offerings.
In fact, it is fears about drains on finances and staff that are holding some pharmacies back from addressing the demand for home delivery services at all. Almost half (45%) of those not currently offering home delivery claimed to be worried that cost to the business would be too high, while 41% said they were concerned about the impact on staff time. A quarter stated they were troubled about funding cuts and aiming to keep costs down as a result.
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Despite these concerns, CitySprint Healthcare’s research indicates that most pharmacies are not embracing technology to improve the efficiency of delivery services and safeguard security. The majority (89%) are relying on paperwork or verbal confirmation to monitor the chain of custody and proof of delivery for prescriptions, pointing to a missed opportunity to streamline processes and ensure transparency and security.
While most pharmacies (72%) employ their own delivery drivers, a third (32%) use existing staff to undertake deliveries and a shocking 6% rely on taxis or local minicabs. However, only 17% say they are worried about medication going missing.
Darren Taylor, Chief Development Officer, CitySprint, commented on the findings: “Pharmacies are under unprecedented funding and regulatory pressures – and the growing demand for home delivery can be an increasing drain on resources if not managed effectively. Although pharmacists should have oversight of home delivery services, managing all aspects of the offering is not sustainable for expert staff members that could be adding value elsewhere in the business.”
“It’s also evident from our research that the legal obligations around pharmacy-to-home deliveries are far from clear cut for pharmacists. It is vital the security of the medicine supply chain extends to home delivery and, as this responsibility remains with the pharmacist, we are calling on the industry to work together to provide clearer guidance in this area.”