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Editor's viewpoint: Crunching the numbers


Editor's viewpoint: Crunching the numbers

If you’re a data geek like PM editor Richard Thomas, there are lots of prime pharmacy numbers to ponder this month...

Everyone knows there are lies, damned lies and statistics but there are plenty of numbers doing the rounds that give a useful indication as to the health – or otherwise – of community pharmacy as we approach the end of another challenging year.

Let’s start with a big number, 3 million. This is the number of flu jabs so far administered by community pharmacists in England – a total that will probably pass 4 million by the time the season finishes. This surely gives the lie once and for all to the misguided criticism that the sector can’t roll out new services at pace and scale.

It is a phenomenal performance, especially when you consider that more than 12 million Covid vaccines have also been given at pharmacy-led sites since the beginning of the year.

A less positive number is 451, the number of pharmacies that have closed in England in 2020-21. The total number of contractors now stands at a five-year low.

It is the continuation of a worrying trend and more closures are inevitable unless pharmacy’s funding crisis is resolved. The GPs received an emergency winter rescue package, so why didn’t pharmacies? Considering all that the sector has done during the Covid crisis, this is beyond a disgrace.

The next figure is 2,221, which is the number of Boots stores. Why bring this up? Because it forms part of the NPA’s argument that the proposed ‘one size fits all’ contractor vote in the representation review is not equitable to independents set against the potential influence of a small number of multiples and larger pharmacy businesses. The NPA has a point.

Finally, £477m is what Aurelius paid for LloydsPharmacy along with the rest of McKesson’s UK operations. It seems a remarkably good deal but what’s important now is a period of stability for the business and fresh investment from the new owners after a difficult time for our second largest pharmacy chain.

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