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Margin Survey

Margins survey

Following considerable collaborative work between the Department of Health (DoH), Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG), Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) and the Business Services Organisation (BSO), the Ongoing Margins Survey (OMS) has been running from 2011. This survey was to take a similar form to one that had been regularly carried out in England from 2005.

The aim of the margin survey is to estimate the level of margin community pharmacies are able to retain from purchasing medicines.

The margin survey is managed by a multidisciplinary group which has representations from CPNI, the DoH and both the operational and analytical teams from BSO. An Independent Assessor verifies calculations and attends all meeting of the multi-disciplinary group.


Margins survey process

  • Pharmacy and drug samples are generated by BSO; these are verified by a statistical expert retained by CPNI.
  • Invoices are collected from the sample independent pharmacies by a private document security company (Morgan’s). A database is populated with all transactions of drugs in the sample by both BSO and CPNI.
  • Data cleansing and checking are carried out jointly by the BSO and CPNI.
  • Supplier discount calculations created by the BSO from the wholesaler statements are scrutinised by CPNI and also applied to their calculations.
  • The calculation is carried out by statistical teams in both BSO and CPNI and then the multi-disciplinary margin survey team meet to discuss the results, along with the Independent Assessor who provides peer review to all parties.

For a more detailed explanation of the Margins Survey methodology, OMS have produced the following methodology document:

Margins Survey Methodology