Taking Stock

We had our annual stock take yesterday. This year it’s coincided with a manic pre-Easter rush on prescriptions: the surgery are closed for two days which has seen an according spike in workload as reminder adverts whip people into a frenzy of ordering. Thankfully we have an external agency who audit us but there’s still a whack of extra work needed to help them and it’s a tough combination of events.

Keeping the right level of stock is always a bit of a balancing act. In the pharmacy we need to weigh up having enough of each item in stock to ensure efficient dispensing versus trying to run a business: if an item goes out of date that represents money lost. We occasionally have patients who expect us to keep every item in stock especially if they’re on something on repeat but sometimes they’re the only person who gets that item and if their prescription gets changed we are left with something we can’t shift. I try to circumvent this by asking patients to phone us to initiate their repeat prescription and then I can pre-order the item and can return to wholesaler within a few days if it’s not required. Also I might try to keep one box or a split box in stock so I’ve at least got something if they run out and need an emergency supply but it’s a tricky one as medicines can cost hundreds or thousands of pounds a box. It’s a bit of a random example but last year we had a patient whose tablets cost nearly 15k a box!

In the past ten years I’ve streamlined our pharmacy stockholding significantly but we do still see wastage. Additionally last year saw unprecedented supply shortages with a number of drugs and we had to speculate on a few to ensure continuity of supply (and buy at the right price before market shortages led to price rises!) It’ll be a couple of days before I get my stockholding figures back but I hope to continue the trend of keeping a value that reduces year on year.

Obviously since last year we have expanded our retail stockholding and that’ll skew overall figures. Keeping the right levels of fresh produce and trying to keep a handle on grocery wastage is a completely different story! Last year was a massive learning curve and we have been working hard to create strategies to limit waste. We’re getting there but we’ve got a long way to go.

Can’t believe I’m about to write this next bit: remember the surgeries are shut on Friday and don’t reopen until Tuesday so make sure you have plenty of medication and reorder if you are going to run short. They ask for 48 hours to turn around a request but are pretty good at sorting things ahead of bank holiday weekends so it might still make our bag for this evening. Argh! 🙈😂

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