This site is intended for Healthcare Professionals only

Pharmacy looks ahead to 2024


Pharmacy looks ahead to 2024

As 2023 draws to a close, we ask pharmacists what the year has been like for them, and what their hopes are for community pharmacy in 2024. By Saša Janković 

Like most years in community pharmacy, 2023 has had its share of ups and downs. What are pharmacists celebrating, and what are they glad to see the back of…?

Martin Bennett MBE

Former superintendent pharmacist, Wicker Pharmacy, Sheffield (recently retired)

“2023 has been another difficult year, mainly caused by inadequate funding, shortages of products, shortages of staff, late decisions about vaccination dates and pharmacy closures – the worst situation in my 53 years in community pharmacy.

“On the success side, we have recruited an excellent pharmacist to take over my superintendent role from 1 December, we have retained our excellent staff and attracted some new recruits to train as technicians who show fantastic promise. Prescription numbers have increased and so have the number of professional services that we now provide.

“My hopes for 2024 are that the DHSC and NHS England ensure there is sufficient funding available for all pharmacies to provide a safe and efficient service; that we can maximise the use of our independent prescribing pharmacists to provide an even better service for patients; that we can make further progress in moving towards being fully employee owned; that all pharmacists take the training opportunities available to qualify as independent prescribers; that those who have been on the register for over 50 years are granted ‘grandfather rights’ for independent prescribing, and that peace breaks out throughout the world. If we can only have one of those then can it be the last one please?” 

Mark Burdon

Pharmacy owner, Burdon Pharmacies, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

“This year there has been a sense of expectation in the air, but scant details upon which to make decisions. We’re all in a holding pattern, a transition. It is an exciting time to be a pharmacist or pharmacy technician, with new clinical and professional opportunities being proposed, but it’s been a rotten time for the business of community pharmacy. All businesses, large and small, have found the economics challenging and sadly for some an existential one. Pharmacy owners need some good news, and hopefully that’s about to come. 

“Looking ahead to 2024, the recent announcement about Pharmacy First is welcomed and long overdue; community pharmacy has been gearing up for years in preparation. We now have a glimpse into the future and can see what is coming next. My greatest hope is that we can bring people with us – our staff, patients, other healthcare professionals – to make this a success.”

Gareth Evans

Pharmacist, Wansford Pharmacy, near Peterborough, and president of The British Society of Pharmacy Sleep Services

“I’m delighted about the pilot starting at Wansford Pharmacy for Early Intervention Community Sleep Support (EICSS) and the publishing of the BSPSS Making Sleep Accessible interim report. Now at over 40 patients, with many fast tracked to secondary care, we are seeing great results. This will be paving the way for community pharmacy to take the primary care lead in tackling sleep disorders in 2024.

“I’m sad to see the discontinuation of the Lipotrim weight management programme, but the extended availability of the NewWeigh weight management programme is good news.

“In 2024, I’m looking forward to utilising the GP CPCS to offer clinical interventions and foster an even greater working relationship with local GPs, as well as seeing the pilot data published to prove community pharmacy’s role in sleep disorders. We will be increasing our private pharmacy services to minimise financial instability from a mainly NHS-based service model, and introducing various screening services using finger prick tests to allow our patients to be more health informed.”

Lindsey Fairbrother

Independent prescriber, owner and superintendent pharmacist, Good Life Pharmacy, Hatton, Derbyshire

“2023 has been very hard work! Challenges have included trying to stay afloat by implementing more non-NHS services as we can’t keep going with NHS alone, despite doing every single enhanced and advanced service out there. Pressure from GPs increasing periods of treatment means a slash in income from dispensing fees, and there has been no GP CPCS as the practice hasn’t the appetite so the pharmacy is losing out because of where it is and not what it can provide. Patients are losing out too and we’ve had much more hassle re late prescriptions and difficulty getting stock.

“In 2024 I hope that I can work less hard for a realistic living. Myself and the team are at breaking point often. We would like to have a less stressful existence with surety of income to enable surety of jobs and existence.”

Mike Hewitson

Superintendent pharmacist and managing director, Beaminster Pharmacy, Dorset

“We carry the risk on virtually all aspects of the contract: prescription volume, medicines margin, and workforce. Prescription volume has increased, and I comfortably predict that it will continue to increase as more prescribers come on stream and treatment guidelines expand the numbers of patients eligible for preventative therapies like statins.

“If prescription volume doubles, our fee budget gets sliced more and more thinly. You don’t get paid more overall. We need a cap on activity within the current global sum and an agreed mechanism to fund extra activity that may be required.

“With medicines margin, I get why Government loves a system that has saved them in excess of £15bn since 2005, but they will kill the market if they carry on as they are. Medicines margin is not compatible with a future based around prescribing. It has to go, and as far as I can tell, nobody is interested in looking seriously at what replaces it.

“Workforce is the other horseman of our current pharmpocalypse. The reasons are many and various, but the bottom line is that community pharmacy is seen as a job rather than a career. I don’t see any forward thinking on what could be done differently to attract, train and retain staff at all levels. Where is the leadership? Where is the ambition? Where is the delivery plan?” 

Hassan Malik

Pharmacist director, North East Pharmacy Group, South Shields

“2023 has been a very tough year, with increasing staff wages, rent and drug costs. It has been increasingly difficult to juggle the new services, provide excellent customer service to our existing customers and stay afloat! 

“For 2024, we are hoping that CPE can negotiate a better contract for the fewer more efficient community pharmacies that remain in England, and that the NHS sees the value that bricks and mortar pharmacies offer in the local community to patients.”

Carys Spencer

Pharmacist and community pharmacy facilitator, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board

“Although it’s been another challenging year for pharmacy, it’s been great to see such impressive numbers with service delivery and innovative ideas. 2023 has also seen some personal development, in which I’ve completed the independent prescribing course at Cardiff University and moved pharmacies to focus on this new role as a prescriber.

“In 2024, I’m hoping to enjoy my first few months of prescribing and then start to work on developing my scope to meet the needs of the local population. For community pharmacy as a whole, I hope to see some much needed stability with stock availability to allow pharmacy teams the chance to get back to doing the work they do best. We are very lucky to have such great contractors in Wales and I look forward to being a part of the ongoing success in 2024 and beyond.”


Community pharmacist, Nottingham

“2023 has been good in so far as we have focused on private services and our successes have been around making the best of private services to ensure that wages and creditors are paid in a timely fashion. However, the flat pharmacy contract was not negotiated well and with the increased cost of wages and utilities, we were challenged financially.

“Our hope for 2024 is that CPE grows a backbone. The chief executive should take a leaf out of Pat Cullen and Mick Lynch’s book, instead of always telling us there is no more money on offer. If community pharmacy can be recognised for its real value (in the absence of GP appointments and accessibility for the older members of the community) and paid properly, it would be a better/fairer use of NHS funding instead of loading it in secondary care and GP land. And lastly, Lloyds has sold out, Boots is selling off some branches, Whitworths has decided to sell all of its estate – the superintendent sits on the NPA, so what does he know is coming that we do not?”

Copy Link copy link button