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Pharmacy delivery driver: one patient died in front of me

Mr Panchal: Providing "human contact" to vulnerable patients is "important" part of his role
Mr Panchal: Providing "human contact" to vulnerable patients is "important" part of his role

Delivery driver Sailesh Panchal has told C+D how he encountered “three instances” when he found patients “collapsed” and “one person pass away in front of me”.

Mr Panchal has been delivering medicines to the homes of patients of his wife's four pharmacies in Bedford for 17 years, he told C+D last month (June 22).

On one occasion, he entered a patient's flat in sheltered accommodation on a routine delivery, only to find the man collapsed following a seizure. The patient sadly passed away, having had an aneurysm.

"Straightaway I knew the signs," Mr Panchal said. "I called the care home staff, to call the emergency services."

Beyond just medicines deliveries

Mr Panchal said his rounds regularly involve delivering medicines and other items from the pharmacy to patients who are housebound or very ill with mobility issues.

This often means his role goes beyond simply "ensur[ing] patients get their medication on time".

"Sometimes [delivery drivers] are the only regular human contact in the course of a day or a week," he said. "Human contact is a very important part of the job. You have to be sensitive to [patients'] needs."

Funding cuts will impact deliveries

Mr Panchal admitted that the free delivery service is "expensive" for the pharmacies he works for, and the government-imposed cuts to pharmacy funding in England will mean "we might have to scale down to one van [instead of two]".

A C+D poll in October 2016 exclusively revealed that nearly two-fifths of pharmacists may reconsider their free delivery services as a result of the funding cuts.

"The cuts are going to hurt us badly," Mr Panchal added. "I'll certainly be working longer hours."

Watch Mr Panchal's wife Indira describe how one of her pharmacies in a deprived area was rejected twice from the Pharmacy Access Scheme in a video here.

Last month, the Community Pharmacy Patient Safety Group released a report on best practices for medicines delivery services. Read C+D’s full coverage of the report here.

A pharmacy delivery driver features in the shortlist for the C+D Pharmacy Team Member of the Year Award. The winners of all 13 C+D Awards categories will be announced tonight (July 12) – follow #CDawards on Twitter this evening, or read C+D’s full run-down of the winners, runners-up and shortlisted entries on the website tomorrow.

Are the funding cuts threatening your pharmacy's delivery services?

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Clearly delivery services could be under threat and they are part of a network of informal services that keep sick people in contact with people. Social isolation is a real problem among elderly and disabled people.

Really? Wow, Superintendent Pharmacist

If pharmacies continue to provide delivery services for free then we will never get any increase in funding. Think about it, if you are an account in the government, assessing pharmacies payments, and they are able to provide this service for free... why would you give them any more money. 

All free deliveries should stop. If its essential, the government will have to fund that service. If its not, then, why do it?

Gerry Diamond, Primary care pharmacist

Ah well, what can I say but the national network of community pharmacy provides value added services on all levels. And sadly an opportunity has been missed to fully fund an integrated service with the NHS.....

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

Did he hit them in his van or something?

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