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Demand for GP appointments could rocket if pharmacy closures continue

Pharmacy News

Demand for GP appointments could rocket if pharmacy closures continue

Widespread pharmacy closures could increase demand for GP appointments by 69 million or more a year, suggest figures from a survey conducted by the National Pharmacy Association in October.

The survey of 1,680 adults in England indicates that 64 per cent would go to their GP more often for advice and treatment if their local pharmacy closed. A third (34 per cent) say they would visit their GP at least twice more each year, while some would go on more than 10 extra occasions.

Overall, the figures equate to between 69 million and 100 million extra GP appointments, if all “local” pharmacies (as defined by the survey respondents) in England were to close. General practice currently provides approximately 300 million patient consultations each year.

Since 2017, over a 1,000 pharmacies have closed, leaving about 10,700 currently remaining in England, according to the NPA . The Association's chair, Nick Kaye, said: “The wait to see your GP will inevitably grow if the pharmacy network continues to shrink. Patients are the biggest losers from pharmacy closures, having to make longer journeys and waiting longer for treatment, or missing out altogether.

“The Government and NHS need to inject substantial, sustained new funding into community pharmacy, to keep pharmacy doors open and keep pressure off other parts of the NHS.”

The NPA’s warning comes weeks before the new Pharmacy First service is due to be rolled out.

A 2020 study by Ernst & Young (1) for the NPA predicted that 72 per cent of family-owned pharmacies could be loss making by the end of 2024 if the current funding arrangements remain unchanged.

1. https://www.npa.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/EY-NPA-Impacts-of-current-funding-policy-and-economic-environment-on-pharmacy-in-England-FINAL.pdf

 

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