World news update: 2 November 2017

New Zealand health minister David Clark. Image: Facebook

Funding cuts mean 190 Lloydspharmacies to close; new NZ health minister questions ownership deregulation; 95% of Cuttack pharmacies allegedly operating without pharmacists

England: The parent company of the Lloydspharmacy chain has announced that it will close down or sell 190 “commercially unviable” stores across England, Chemist + Druggist reports.

The decision was made as a result of the controversial funding cuts to the pharmacy sector in the UK.

“We must respond to the dramatic reimbursement cuts over the past 24 months,” said Celesio UK’s managing director Cormac Tobin.

The group plans to try to find buyers for the affected pharmacies, and “look to redeploy colleagues where possible” but if this is not possible, some pharmacists may be made redundant.

Currently Lloydspharmacy runs “around 1,500” branches throughout the UK.

The UK’s Department of Health responded by saying the affected Lloydspharmacy branches are “just” 1.6% of the total number of pharmacies in England, a response which was criticised by C+D editor James Waldron as “callous”.


New Zealand: New Zealand has a new Health Minister – and he’s already voiced scepticism about moves to deregulate the pharmacy sector, reports Pharmacy Today.

Following the election of its Labour Party to Government, in coalition with New Zealand First, David Clark has been sworn in as Health Minister; he has already told Pharmacy Today that pharmacy “seems to work well” as it is.

The statement follows moves from the previous government to deregulate ownership, permitting any “fit and proper” person to own a pharmacy.

This deregulation requires a “burden of proof,” however, he said.

“The system we have now seems to work well. We have pharmacists providing good advice in our communities and there is a high-quality standard of care.”  

He says he will need to do a lot of research, reading and “coalface involvement” before tackling these issues.

Pharmacy Today says that Mr Clark’s priorities will include “ensuring pharmacists work to top of scope, addressing the backlog of unmet healthcare needs, and repairing damaged relationships in the sector”.


Orissa, India: The Orissa Post is warning consumers that only 5% of local pharmacies in Cuttack do not employ trained pharmacists, instead subjecting patients to “ordinary salesmen” who have prescribed incorrect medications in the past.

The paper cites the case of a man whose six-month-old son became critically ill after being given an incorrect drug to treat diarrhoea, and a women who died after being incorrectly given a diabetes drug instead of a medicine prescribed by a gynaecology and obstetrics doctor.

“Only 5% of chemist shops in the city have trained pharmacists. The remaining drugstores have somehow arranged pharmacy degree certificates to sell medicines. They usually recruit ordinary salesmen to sell drugs to people,” said Kusha Panda, a pharmacy student at SCB Medical College and Hospital.

A local social activist claimed that Health Department inspectors, whose responsibility it is to visit pharmacies and ensure they are operating legally, have a “tacit understanding” with owners and are aware that the pharmacies are operating without pharmacists on duty.


UK: Boots has enhanced its mental health support structure after Alison Stamps, who worked at the group’s Tindale store, lost her life to suicide.

Ms Stamps’ death, and the workplace pressures her parents believe were a contributing factor, were highlighted in British Parliament last week when her local MP, Kevan Jones, spoke about pressures on pharmacists and the issue of mental health.

Elizabeth Fagan, Boots UK and Republic of Ireland managing director, has since told Chemist + Druggist that the group has increased its mental health awareness training and access to face to face counselling since Ms Stamps’ death.

“We take [mental health issues] extremely seriously and continue to work very hard to have the right support processes in place to help both colleagues and their managers,” Ms Fagan told the magazine.

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