Lucy Millett looks at the importance of maintaining your stock levels
Perhaps the most important message Lucy Millett gave in her talk at BSAVA Congress on stock control was that ''too many cooks spoil the broth''.
Lucy, a qualified RVN and sales rep, asked who should take control of stock in practice and suggested that, in an ideal world, there should be a pharmacy manager or equivalent responsible person who has full control of stock ordering and monitoring. This ensures consistency, avoids mistakes and avoids theft.
There should also be consistency when it comes to meeting manufacturer's representatives with, where possible, the pharmacy manager and the clinical director or veterinary surgeon responsible for drug choice, she said.
Lucy gave some good advice on drug purchasing:
- Do your research on 'offers' – are they really money saving, will they all be used or will some be wasted?
- Check the discount on products that are grouped together – are they really a bargain, do you really want all of them?
- Make sure you know what the rebate from the manufacturer is based on, is it inclusive or non-inclusive of the wholesaler discount - this can make a significant difference.
- Think carefully about free of charge stock – do you need it and will you sell it or will it just take up space until you have to discard it?
Although manual ordering of stock is still common in practice, an increasing number of practices are moving or have moved to automatic ordering. This is really the gold standard of ordering and done through the practice practice management system (PMS).
Manual ordering is easy, allows batch traceability and orders go straight to the wholesaler with automatic replenishing of stock to maximum and minimum stock levels. However, setting it up can be complicated with the need to set maximum and minimum stock level. Practices moving over to automatic ordering often start with their 50 most popular products, increasing this number when they are familiar with the workings of the system.
Closed pharmacies are also growing in popularity in the larger practices. Here all medicines are kept in one room and a pharmacist is used to dispense to clients via the pharmacy. No-one else dispenses and dispensing information is sent to the pharmacist from the consulting rooms via the PMS.
Lucy emphasised the importance of stocktaking. Stock value is essential financial information and stocktaking must be carried out annually for accounting purposes but the stocktaking process is just as important in terms of knowing what stock the practice has and how it is used.
So although all practices will have annual stock takes, six-monthly and even three-monthly stock takes can be very useful. There are practices which simply carry out an ongoing stock check so that they have a very up-to-date picture of their stock use.
Lucy urged delegates not to forget consumables in any stock calculations or stock takes as they make up about 40 per cent of stock value. She concluded that it is important to remember that the 'old clipboard walk' is difficult to replace when it comes to simply just 'seeing what is on the shelves'.