Britain’s pharmacies are at risk of a funding epidemic, but Valley Northern believes that pharmacies should be investing, not saving.
Britain’s pharmacies are at risk of a funding epidemic, but Valley Northern believes that pharmacies should be investing, not saving.

The turbulent financial landscape has resulted in many healthcare organisations experiencing a state of economic limbo about whether to invest or cut costs. England’s pharmacies are also at risk of a major funding epidemic, so many are beginning to tighten the purse strings. Here, Adrian Pittock, Marketing Director of pharmaceutical packaging specialist, Valley Northern, explains why, pharmacies should be investing, not saving.

Valley Northern supplies pharmacies and other healthcare establishments with a range of medical dispensers, medical disposables, packaging, and other equipment from its headquarters in Staffordshire.

A penny saved isn’t a penny earned

Adrian Pittock says: “In 2016, the Department for Heath proposed that funding for England’s pharmacies should be reduced by more than £200 million over the next two years. However, the number of dispensed prescriptions in the United Kingdom is continues to rise.

“The demand for community pharmacies and their services is certainly not decreasing. In fact, as the NHS continues to struggle to deal with demand, community pharmacies are likely to become even busier in the next few years. Instead of searching for ways to make cuts, pharmacies should focus on how they can increase the efficiency of their procedures.

“Choosing and ordering pharmacy packaging is often seen as a necessary, but mundane task for pharmacists. However, there is more to pharmacy dispensing than purchasing bags and bottles. In fact, when chosen carefully, the correct packaging could reap significant efficiency benefits.

“The right prescription labels, for example, can streamline the dispending process for pharmacy staff. For busy pharmacies, colour coded labelling can be used to illustrate the required action for each prescription. A label can clearly indicate whether the prescription has been paid for, if it requires home delivery or if it is the final of a repeat prescription. Not only does this speed the administrative process for staff, but also shortens waiting times for patients.

“Standardising pharmacy packaging can also provide a similar ease of use for pharmacy staff. The Valley Northern ProBox range, for example, comes with a ProBox carton dispenser to save dispensing time. The dispenser ensures all the pharmacy’s cartons are organised by size, clearly displaying the appropriate product codes for each carton.

Don’t waste time shopping around to get the best deal

“There’s no denying that investing time to compare prices and search for the best deals can save you money in the short run. However, most of us are often left frustrated that hours of our time have been wasted to save a few pennies, only to end up with a lesser quality product that we’re not happy with. On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for brand loyalty, especially when purchasing for a business.

“Respectable suppliers will provide pharmacies with a dedicated account manager to contact them about existing orders, queries and to keep them up-to-date with special offers that the pharmacy may be interested in. At Valley Northern, pharmacies can register for an online account to manage and track their orders — this includes an option to mark specific products as favourites, making it much easier for the user to make an order of frequently purchased items.

“What’s more, by using the same supplier for all orders, pharmacists can rest assured that there will be no confusion caused by unfamiliar product packaging. By taking a uniformed approach to packaging, pharmacy staff and patients will become familiar with the shape, design, and labelling of prescriptions, avoiding potential errors in dispensing.

“There’s no denying that England’s pharmacies are facing a period of financial uncertainty. However, making financial cuts to an already struggling industry will only worsen the pressure on community pharmacies and in turn, affect the service provided to patients. To survive in the long term, it’s vital that pharmacies focus on efficiency benefits that investments can bring, rather than the uncertainty of financial cuts.

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