Cormac’s view: hospital pharmacies must be ready to boost efficiencies

Our managing director Cormac Tobin shares his thoughts on how hospital pharmacies can transform to meet Lord Carter’s recommendations.

It feels like a long time since Lord Carter published his recommendations for increasing efficiency in our NHS Hospitals back in February. So much has happened in the world of pharmacy since then, but at Celesio UK we’ve been busy supporting hospital pharmacies to find ways to make savings and get the best value out of their budgets.

Hospital pharmacies have been tasked to improve efficiencies to allow pharmacists to spend more time with patients and this has to be achieved within existing budget challenges. As the leading provider of pharmacy services to hospitals, we have been working hard with our hospital customers to build their Hospital Pharmacy Transformation Plans.

With draft plans needing to be submitted at the end of October, we have been providing our customers with tools and advice on how to evaluate their current operations to see if savings can be realised by outsourcing elements of dispensing to a pharmacy partner. We also recorded a webinar hosted by HSJ (Health Service Journal), live from Westminster, bringing together a small group of NHS pharmacy specialists to discuss how efficiencies in hospital pharmacy can be realised. The debate specifically focused on Carter’s suggestions around reducing supply chain activity in pharmacy, freeing up capacity for medicines optimisation and outsourcing elements of dispensing medicines.

It was great to see a couple of our very own experts on the panel, including Adam Crampsie; Head of Clinical Operations, and Kieran Doona; National Healthcare Development Executive. It was also great to see our longest-standing outpatient dispensing customer join the discussion, Professor Alison Ewing; Clinical Director of Pharmacy and Therapies at The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, Aintree University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust.

The debate highlighted how the planning process works. Our panellists discussed the reality and logistics behind an integrated healthcare model that will not only meet the financial challenges faced by the industry, but more importantly improve the quality and efficiency of the patient care it delivers.

Alison Ewing made a key statement that really stood out for me; as simple as it sounds she said: “I hate ‘us and them’. We’re all healthcare, we deal with patients and that’s how we have to look at it for the future.” I believe this is immensely important when it comes to transforming hospital pharmacy. It’s more to do with challenging traditional models of care and understanding how we as healthcare providers can work together. It’s about identifying what we can do differently to continue to reinvent and renovate our patient services.

In summary it was clear that achieving the Carter targets will be tough but achievable if we work together to share experience and ideas, consider outsourcing elements of dispensing, consolidate supply chain activities with partners and integrate hospital and community pharmacy to support transfer of care .

We had great levels of engagement with many users tuning in to watch the live stream. There were some very interesting questions sent in around how to get started, how quickly transformation projects can get off the ground and the reality of the savings that can be made. Watch the stream here:  and register to receive the full Q&A report.