PHARMACISTS are split over the outlook for their sector over the next 12 months, a survey has revealed.
The study by property agency Christie + Co showed that half of the 3,500 pharmacists polled believe that trading levels for their businesses in 2011 will remain constant or will improve.
But the other half are less confident of trading prospects – highlighting the impact of issues such as the Government’s proposed changes to NHS funding.
The study, which banded pharmacists according to levels of annual prescription income, found that those based in high street and village locations were more confident about the trading outlooks than those in the suburbs or on shared sites.
Those outlets dispensing up to 2,500 items and between 7,500 to 10,000 items were more optimistic about the coming year than those dispensing between 2,500 and 5,000 items and over 10,000 items.
Tony Evans, head of Christie + Co’s pharmacy team, said: “The key message from this survey is one of uncertainty about the outlook for the coming year, although it is encouraging to note the percentage of operators who believe trading will improve or remain at 2010 levels this year.”
The most common concerns were product availability and supply; control of entry legislation; the abolition of Primary Care Trusts; and potential transfer of funding to GP consortia.
Another negative factor that pharmacists believe could impact their businesses was Direct To Pharmacy supply schemes, which will potentially reduce discounts previously generated.
Said Mr Evans: “The overwhelming opinion is that this will impact heavily on pharmacy businesses with particular concern expressed over a potential conflict of interests if GP consortia were to hold the purse strings.”
But he added: “While it is clear that the industry faces some significant challenges over the years to come, appetite within the sector continues unabated.”