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SaveourPharmacies: Two thirds of pharmacies forced to slash opening hours due to funding squeeze

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Pharmacy protest unveils as up to 6000 pharmacies through NPA have called for a day of action against financial crisis burdening the sector

“Cutting opening hours is a last resort for pharmacies desperately trying to make ends meet in the face of a decade of cuts,” Paul Rees, Chief Executive of the National Pharmacy Association(NPA) has stated.

Amidst unprecedented closures and financial strain, up to 6,000 community pharmacies across the UK unite in protest today, underscoring a decade of funding cuts that have forced two-thirds to slash operating hours, highlighting a sector in crisis.

The unprecedented day of action is symbolized by dimming lights and wearing black to protest against the deteriorating financial conditions.

According to new analysis by the NPA, approximately 63 per cent of pharmacies have been compelled to reduce their opening hours since 2015 due to extreme financial pressures.

This translates to an average reduction of 6.1 hours per pharmacy, amounting to a 10 per cent decrease in accessibility for patients.

The analysis further reveals that only a minuscule 2.5 per cent of pharmacies managed to increase their operating hours during this period.

In 2015, pharmacies were open an average of 54.2 hours per week, a number that has dwindled to 48.1 hours by 2024.

Additionally, nearly 5 per cent of pharmacies included in the study were forced to shut down completely.

Funding for pharmacies in England alone has plummeted by 40 per cent in real terms over the past decade, pushing many establishments to the brink of closure.

Paul Rees, Chief Executive of the NPA, conveyed the gravity of the situation, stating, “The current situation is unsustainable and, with three-quarters of pharmacies in the red, many are simply being pushed to the brink.”

He emphasized the dire consequences, noting that 1,400 pharmacies have shut down in England alone over the last ten years, with similar closures in Wales and Northern Ireland, and impending risks in Scotland.

The NPA’s February survey underscored that 64 per cent of pharmacy owners are tapping into personal savings or family support to sustain their businesses, with 79 per cent reporting inadequate remuneration for their work.

This financial strain is exacerbated by the fact that pharmacy funding no longer covers the costs of many medicines, forcing pharmacies to dispense medication at a loss.

Rees highlighted the urgency for political intervention, calling for a new funding framework that allocates at least 2.5 per cent of the overall NHS budget to pharmacies.

The NPA’s day of action aims to draw attention to these issues, urging all political parties to commit to ending funding reductions and ensuring a sustainable future for community pharmacies.

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