Free medication deliveries were used to grow market share

 

In response to the following article:

 

“PSNC advise against delivering services for free”

 

Dear PIP editor,

 

I do not think patients should have the right to receive free deliveries of medication all of the time. I do feel that the NHS should pay for medication deliveries from a community pharmacy.

 

I also think it is fair to charge for medication deliveries.

 

The reason community pharmacies have traditionally offered services like medication delivery services for free is purely and simply to achieve market share and customer loyalty. These were the key drivers for the majority of community pharmacies.

 

There are instances where the pharmacy addressed the genuine needs of patients in ensuring they received critical medications, but the population have now become accustomed to services in other retail experiences being provided to their doorstep.

 

I’m afraid though that I cannot describe a fair charging structure for delivering medicines in community pharmacy. Regardless of how we ‘slice and dice’ the rule for free delivery of medication, there will be winners and losers.

 

The profile of our population is so diverse that it is almost impossible to make a hard and fast rule to encompass all and prevent hardship to those who genuinely couldn’t afford to pay for delivery. Perhaps there should be a baseline charge or fee from the government to cover that fee if there are circumstances that an individual cannot afford the costs.

 

I have experienced the scenario where a local large chain pharmacy stopped all deliveries and the provision of MDS (unless a charge was made). This caused an influx of patients wanting to avail themselves of our delviery service and MDS provision. We had to rationalise the service, point out that it was intended for housebound people and people with disability to access their medications.

 

We disappointed some people, and some suddenly realised that ‘delivery wasn’t the norm’.

 

Yours etc.

 

Darren Powell

 

Community pharmacist

 

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