National Pharmacy Association partners with Charac to accelerate digital transformation of independent community pharmacies

  • 650 community pharmacies have closed in the past six years due to NHS England funding cuts and rising costs. 
  • New partnership with leading digital platform Charac will help give real substance to independent community pharmacies’ online presence to broaden their array of services
  • News comes as Health Secretary calls for expansion of the role of community pharmacies  

CHARAC, an NHS-integrated one-stop platform for independent community pharmacies, alongside the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), the trade association for 80% of independent pharmacies across the country, are delighted to announce their long-term partnership to allow pharmacies to deliver the broad range of services needed to support the public. This follows Health Secretary Therese Coffey’s calls for an expansion of the role of community pharmacies in a bid to free up two million GP appointments. 

Since 2016, some 650 community pharmacies have closed, due to NHS England funding cuts and rising costs. 

It comes at a time when pharmacies are needed more than ever, due to GP shortages and pressures on the NHS. By 2026, all new pharmacy graduates will qualify as prescribers, and with some 35 medical conditions now not being prescribed medication from a GP, pharmacies have been trumpeted by the government as an alternative option for consultations. However, they need to free up the capacity and means to do this effectively.  

One of the biggest opportunities for improving efficiencies is to digitise certain tasks, in order to free up more time for patient care. 

Charac can help because it is an app designed specifically for community pharmacies, to drive growth, relieve time pressure and increase efficiency. Historically, pharmacies have focused on dispensing medicines, but as the healthcare needs of the population continue to change, pharmacies are providing more holistic care, often involving clinical consultations. Through Charac, pharmacists are now able to manage repeat prescriptions as well as booking and conducting consultations all in one place and are now able to access patient records, prescriptions, and consultations all in one place. The prescriptions can be delivered directly to a patient’s home due to Charac’s recent £1 million strategic investment from the Royal Mail.  

The partnership with the NPA adds Charac’s innovative approach to patient engagement to the association’s business partnership programme, as one of just 52 trusted partners. The NPA and Charac will collaborate with members of the NPA and beyond to accelerate the necessary digital transition of independent community pharmacies, particularly given their importance to poorer communities and less advantaged individuals at high risk due to potential pharmacy closures. 

The partnership is part of the NPA’s efforts to improve the online presence of community pharmacies, including patient application, online booking, website design, and a delivery service. With Charac similarly dedicated to bettering digital interaction with patients, the new joint ecosystem will provide pharmacies with the necessary funding and cutting-edge technology to aid delivery of primary care. 

Santosh Sahu, Founder of Charac, said: “Partnering with the NPA is another massive milestone for Charac and reflects the great strides we are taking in assisting independent community pharmacies. We are thrilled to announce our long-term partnership with such a well-respected and influential organisation, particularly at a time where the cost-of-living crisis, a looming recession, and a stretched NHS have created a perfect storm for the new health secretary. Greater recognition from the Department of Health for the vital role that pharmacists play in our health ecosystem is essential and Charac stands ready to alleviate these burdens by digitally empowering pharmacists”. 

Simon Tebbutt, Director of Membership at the NPA, said: “It is an exciting opportunity to work with a company with the ambition of Charac as one of our trusted partners. Charac presented an attractive solution to enable community pharmacies to modernise their platforms, and we look forward to working towards this shared goal. It is vital that this gap in the market is filled: digital transformation has accelerated immensely over the last couple of years, and has become a necessity in healthcare, reflected in our partnerships with Charac.” 

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