Decision day looms for RLI pharmacy

A protest against outsourcing at the hospital
A protest against outsourcing at the hospital

The health trust that runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary is due to decide whether to outsource its pharmacy to a private company.

It is understood Boots or Lloyds pharmacies are in the running to take over the hospital’s outpatient pharmacy, but some trust governors believe the pharmacy should 
be “insourced” so that any profits remain within the NHS.

In a letter to south Lakeland MP Tim Farron, one governor wrote: “The University Hospitals Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust (UHMBFT) is seeking to outsource its Outpatient Pharmacy Dispensing (OPD) services to Boots or Lloyds and possibly sell off its total drug stock.

“The Governors of the Trust...whilst generally supporting this strategy do not support this ‘Outsourcing’ model but prefer an ‘Insourcing Model’ which involves establishing an arm’s length company of which the 
Trust is the sole shareholder and essentially doing it ourself.

“The Governors have visited Sunderland and Warwick hospitals and have seen this insourcing model working successfully.

“Furthermore the advantage of the latter is that the Trust receives via a charitable donation all the profits made and thus able to reinvest this profit into enhanced patient care.”

But the letter says the trust seeks to plough the outsourcing model due to problems with the recruitment of pharmacists, and that health watchdog Monitor are imposing a £50,000 financial limit on expenditure within the Trust which therefore prevents the setting up of the insourced pharmacy.

Aspokesman for Monitor said: “Monitor can confirm that the cap relates to the use of external consultants and would not affect the outsourcing or insourcing of particular services.”

The Governor said he would be meeting with Monitor to “further understand this limitation which is driving the Trust to Boots or Lloyds whereby all profits will go outside the NHS to their respective shareholders”.

A spokesman for UHMBT said: “We can confirm that we are considering a number of proposals as regards the future operations of our outpatient pharmacy services.

“Any proposals will be discussed in public during the Trust Board meeting on 30th September 2015.

“Governors have been kept fully informed and updated on progress, and this particular project has been discussed at previous Council of Governor meetings on November 20 2014, and May 28 2015.

“The topic will be discussed again at a public session of the Council of Governors on Monday September 28 at Kendal Town Hall, in advance of the Trust Board.”

Read about previous pharmacy protests here