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Welcome to State of Pharmacy, the annual survey where pharmacists share their views on what it’s like running a pharmacy today. The inaugural report dives into the pressing issues facing pharmacy, including the new government contract, funding cuts and Brexit.

We've surveyed over a hundred pharmacists across the UK, collecting 2,750+ data points to build an accurate snapshot of pharmacy in 2020. We have enlisted key pharmacy stakeholders to share their expertise and insights on the future of pharmacy as we begin a new decade.


Pharmacists believe gross margins are being squeezed

60% of pharmacists believe the biggest threat facing pharmacy in 2020 is gross margins being squeezed.

This was followed by adapting to the new five-year NHS pharmacy contract (22%) and competition from online pharmacies. (13%)

“Many pharmacies are struggling because of a combination of squeezed funding, medicines shortages and inflated prices. Funding is not keeping pace with escalating costs. Maintaining cash flow is a problem for a lot of independents in these circumstances. But pharmacists are trusted professionals and community pharmacies provide an excellent service that patients need and value. This underpins our confidence that there is a commercially viable and professionally rewarding long term future for the sector.”Mark Lyonette, CEO of the NPA

Brexit concerns weigh on pharmacists across the UK

84% of pharmacists believe Brexit will have an impact on their pharmacy.

87% say they are concerned about the supply of medicine, with 42% considering stockpiling drugs in preparation.

39% of pharmacists expect their teams to shrink after Brexit, while 55% predict they will stay the same. Only 6% expect their teams to increase after Brexit.

“Pharmacies need to be aware of the potential impact. I believe the main issues will almost certainly centre around more shortages and the impact on patients. I would advise against the stockpiling of drugs and focus more on communicating with their patients. Patients are aware of the potential issues but are more likely to be receptive if you keep them informed.”Phil Galt, Managing Director at Lindsay & Gilmour Pharmacy group

Pharmacists turn to private prescriptions as NHS revenue shrinks

84% of pharmacists say they hope to dispense more private prescriptions in 2020.

82% of pharmacists expressed an interest in offering private doctor consultations from their pharmacy.

One pharmacist in England said reducing NHS revenue "will need to be converted into private services revenue to survive".


Prescription delivery set to become widespread

81% of pharmacists say they plan on offering prescription delivery in 2020.

Of those who are set to offer prescription delivery, 8 in 10 say they will offer it for free.

“Pharmacies are offering services such as free home delivery in an attempt to preserve market share. They have to compete with not only community pharmacies, but also online pharmacies who offer free delivery. Hence, I don't see the trend of offering free delivery reversing, but it might be beneficial for pharmacy owners to look at the economics of offering the service – higher script volume doesn't always filter down to the bottom line.”Dr Zubair Ahmed, CEO of Medicspot

More pharmacies are set to close in 2020

A PSNC analysis found 233 pharmacies were shut down in the past two years after government funding cuts.

98% of pharmacists think that this trend will continue in 2020 and more pharmacies will be forced to close.

Only 8% of pharmacists believe that now is a good time to open a new pharmacy.


Pharmacies need to have a digital presence

66% of pharmacies say it is important to have an online presence, with a further 28% saying it is fairly important.

66% take advantage of services like Google Maps, 65% have their own website and 63% use social media to promote their pharmacy.

Almost four in ten (37%) have tried using online advertising to reach new customers.

“Independent pharmacists should use online advertising to promote their pharmacy. It's a no brainer. It works. So it's a big fat YES. The harsh reality now is that the competition, both online and offline, is fierce. Online advertising, if done correctly, will help secure your business and there's plenty of opportunities to grow.”Saam Ali, CEO of Pharmacy Mentor

Pharmacists are embracing e-commerce

54% of pharmacists say they will sell products and services online in 2020.

78% of pharmacists predict it is 'very important' to adopt new technologies in their pharmacy in 2020.


More public awareness is needed

While pharmacists are capable of so much more than dispensing prescriptions, they are often underutilised in primary care.

73% of pharmacists believe the public are unaware of their capabilities.


Pharmacists fear the new government contract will decrease revenue

81% of pharmacists feel their revenue will decrease as a result of the new government contract.

Across the UK, 40% of pharmacists say the services commissioned by their local commissioner are decreasing, and only 11% of pharmacists think they are increasing.

61% of pharmacists think additional commissioned services won't make up for revenue lost from MURs being decommissioned.

“Community pharmacy needs to have a plan for the changing environment, the changing demands of patients, and the changing commissioning environment.”Sanjay Ganvir, Director at Green Light Pharmacy group

More training required for NHS consultations

The NHS Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) sees pharmacies earning £14 per consultation.

However, 52% of pharmacists say they have not had enough clinical training to deliver the service.

Full survey results

United Kingdom



A team of phenomenal people made our State of Pharmacy report possible. We would like to thank the National Pharmacy Association for their support and the experts for their commentary. And of course, we couldn't be more grateful to all of the pharmacists who took time out of their busy schedules to share their perspectives, allowing us to put together an accurate snapshot of pharmacy in 2020.

Addtional information

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions regarding the Medicspot State of Pharmacy 2020 report or to request any of the following:

  • Expert comment and information on pharmacy, healthcare and the future of primary care and technological advances in pharmacy.
  • More information about how Medicspot is helping independent pharmacies across the UK.
  • Product images and infographics.

Email: info@medicspot.co.uk

Phone: 020 3637 8398

Media contact

For all media enquiries, please contact:

Email: lucas@medicspot.co.uk