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CCA: 1,008 fewer pharmacies now compared with 2015

Pharmacy News

CCA: 1,008 fewer pharmacies now compared with 2015

By Neil Trainis

This story was originally published on Independent Community Pharmacist

The Company Chemists’ Association has said there are more than 1,000 fewer pharmacies in England now than in 2015 while eight pharmacies on average have closed each week so far during this financial year.

Drawing on NHS Organisational Data Service information and NHS England’s quarterly eDispensary file, as well as the pharmacy register and NHS Business Services Authority dispensing data, the CCA said there has been a net loss of 1,008 pharmacies over the last eight years, “with permanent closures occurring disproportionately in areas of deprivation.”

The 20 per cent most deprived parts of the country, it said, has seen the most closures, with 37.5 per cent of those 1,008 pharmacies closing their doors between 2015 and June this year.

The CCA said it was “concerned that permanent closures will undermine healthcare accessibility in deprived areas, where access tends to be more limited despite greater need.”

It said that although British Medical Journal research from 2014 showed 89.2 per cent of the population had access to a community pharmacy within a 20-minute walk, as did 99.8 per cent in areas of highest deprivation, pharmacy closures will continue to contribute to “distance decay,” which means people will have to travel further to get to a pharmacy and risk missing out on “accessible and preventative healthcare.”

The CCA warned each pharmacy in England is suffering from a £67,000 yearly “funding blackhole” and workload across the community pharmacy network increased by 1.7 million hours between 2017-2018 and 2022-23.

The CCA also insisted the Additional Roles Reimbursement Scheme was “fanning the flames of an already precarious workforce crisis in community pharmacy.” It said more than 5,200 pharmacists work in primary care and nearly 4,000 community pharmacists have left the sector to work in primary care networks or general practice.

The CCA said the £645 million in new money the government pledged to invest in community pharmacies had not started “flowing into pharmacies yet” and urged Number 10, which faces a tough general election in the next year or so, to “revisit pharmacies’ core funding to reverse the trend of closures.”

The CCA’s chief executive Malcolm Harrison (pictured) said: “A toxic mix of funding, workforce, and workload pressures are restricting pharmacies from delivering what the government wants them to deliver.

“Pharmacies are delivering many more services and dispensing more and more medicines for an ever-shrinking pot of money. This is simply unsustainable. Without immediate action to protect the community pharmacy network, patients in deprived neighbourhoods risk being left high and dry.

“The government must work with us to reshape what community pharmacies do and reduce our workload so patients can continue to access the face-to-face care they need from pharmacies.”

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